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on one: against sat 


"The most shattering book on demonic possession isn't fiction at all but 

MALACHI MARTIN'S spellbinding work of interpretive reporting." 

— New York (Sunday) Daily News 

lostage to the Devil is a controversial nonfiction bestseller — a chilling and 
rue account of possession and exorcism in modern America — hailed by NBC 
ladio as "one of the most stirring books on the contemporary scene." 

"Martin is above all serious. He is not speaking about madness, about illusions 

or the irrational, but about the real beyond all reason. . . . He presents exorcism 

as ... a titanic clash of wills that threatens the lives, the sanity, even the 

souls of all attending." — Newsweek 

"In the barrage of books on possession and exorcism, this is undoubtedly the most 
authoritative and convincing." — The Washington Post Book Review 

"Martin's polished contemporary sense of traditional theology entices even the 

skeptical. . . . Stunningly pertinent . . . Will set you thinking — and 

thinking — and thinking. " — Detroit News 

A A LAC HI MARTIN — eminent theologian, premier authority on the Roman 
Catholic Church, and former professor at the Vatican's Pontifical Biblica 
nstitute — is the author of such national bestsellers as The Final Conclave, Vatican, 
r he Jesuits, and 77?^ Keys of This Blood. His most recent book is Windswept House: A 
r atican Novel. 



An Imprint o/HarperColMnsP#Ms&m 
www. Harper One. com 

Cover design: Jim Warner 

Photograph: © Tom Maday/courtesy of Photonica 

*, .•*!. 

5 1695 

About Hostage to the Devil 

"[Martin] presents exorcism itself as a perilous personal meeting' 
between priest and devil, a titanic clash of wills that threatens the 
lives, the sanity, even the souls of all attending." 

— Newsweek 

"Martin builds a gathering, glowing light of love, compassion, and 
faith. Hostage to the Devil is surely one of the most stirring books . 
on the contemporary scene." 
-NBC Radio 

"In the barrage of books on possession and exorcism . . . this is 
undoubtedly the most authoritative and convincing." 
—The Washington Post Book Review 

"He brings a hellish tale, but with a heavenly message." 
—The Baltimore Sun 

"Unmatched. . . . Martin's polished contemporary sense of traditional 
theology entices even the skeptical. . . . Stunningly pertinent. . . . 
Will set you thinking — and thinking— and thinking." 

— Detroit News 

"First-rate . . . enlightening and thought-provoking . . . decidedly 


— The Sunday Denver Post 

"An amazing and extraordinary book. Both believers and non- 
believers will read it all the way through with not a dull moment." 

— Chattanooga Free Press 

"Sheds new light on the age-old confrontation of good and evil." 
—The Pittsburgh Press 

"This is the strength of Hostage to the Devil: it offers insight . . . into 
the more personal evil of everyday life." 

— Harvard Crimson 

About Malachi Martin 

"In biblical times, they would have called him a prophet." 
—The Dallas Morning News 

"Martin is concerned with the fate of modern man. . . . [He] has an 
ability to argue a case very forcefully . . . and make strong 

— New York Times Book Review 

"He gives fascinating, almost poetic, accounts of religious 

— Chicago Daily News 

"There is a magnetism about him that draws from others thoughts 
and feelings they didn't know were there. He is a weaver of spells 
with words." 

— San Francisco Examiner 

"Malachi Martin is one of the most fascinating writers in the reli- 
gious field today." 

— Sunday Houston Chronicle 

"One of the world's most scholarly yet passionate authors. Malachi 
Martin is probably one of the finest writers alive." 

— Psychology Today Book Club 

"His writing is moving and intelligent. And in his writing, he has 
won a victory over the forces of evil." 

— Baton Rouge Sunday Advocate 

to the 

Books by Malachi Martin 

The Scribal Character of the Dead Sea Scrolls 

The Pilgrim (under the pseudonym Michael Serafian) 

The Encounter 

Three Popes and the Cardinal 

Jesus Now 

The New Castle 

Hostage to the Devil 

The Final Conclave 

King of Kings (a novel) 

The Decline and Fall of the Roman Church 

There Is Still Love 

Rich Church, Poor Church 

Vatican (a novel) 

The Jesuits 

Then Keys of This Blood 

Windswept House: A Vatican Novel 

The Possession and Exorcism 
of Five Living Americans 

Malachi Martin 



An Imprint ofHarpei'CoW'msPublisbers 

All of the men and women involved in the five cases reported here are known to me person- 
ally; they have given their fullest cooperation on the condition that their identities and those 
of their families and friends not be revealed. This stricture has, of necessity, been extended 
to the publisher who has therefore not verified the book's contents other than the authors 
personal assurance, and the publisher's own verification from independent sources that exor- 
cisms have been and continue to be performed currently in the United States. All names and 
places and any other elements that could conceivably lead to the possible identification of 
the people involved in the cases reported here have been changed. Any similarity between 
the cases reported here and any others that may have occurred is unintentional and purely 

A hardcover edition of this book was published by Reader's Digest Press. It is here reprinted 
by arrangement with the author. 

hostage to the devil: The Possession and Exorcism of Five Americans. Copyright © 1976 by 
Malachi Martin. Preface copyright © 1992 by Malachi Martin. All rights reserved. Printed in 
the United States of America. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any man- 
ner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embodied 
in critical articles and reviews. For information address Lila Karpf Literary Management, 225 
East 63rd Street, New York, NY 10021 . 

HarperCollins books may be purchased for educational, business, or sales promotional use. For 
information please write: Special Markets Department, HarperCollins Publishers, 10 East 53rd 
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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data 
Martin, Malachi. 

Hostage to the devil : the possession and exorcism of five Americans / 
Malachi Martin. — HarperSanFrancisco ed. 
p. cm. 
Originally published: New York: Reader's Digest, 1976. 
Includes index. 
ISBN: 978-0-06-065337-8 

1. Exorcism — United States — Case studies. 2. Demoniac possession — United 
States — Case studies. 3. Exorcism. 4. Demoniac possession. I. Title. 
BX2340.M35 1992 
265'. 94— dc20 92-53900 

07 08 09 10 11 RRD(H) 40 39 38 37 36 35 34 33 

Preface to the New Edition: 
Possession and Exorcism 
in America in the 1990s 

In the blink of God's eye since Hostage to the Devil was first published 
in 1976, nothing has changed on the one hand. And everything has 
changed on the other. 

Nothing has changed in the process by which an individual is Pos- 
sessed by personal and intelligent evil. Nothing has changed, either, 
in the requirements for successful Exorcism of a Possessed individ- 
ual. All of that remains as described and summarized in the chapters 
and cases that follow. 

What have changed are the conditions of the society in which we 
all now live. To a far greater degree than most of us could have imag- 
ined fifteen or so years ago, a favorable climate for the occurrence of 
demonic Possession has developed as the normal condition of our 

In 1976 Satanism was presented, and was probably regarded by 
most Americans, as a box office and a bookstore draw. In fact, Hostage 
to the Devil was intended as a clear warning that Possession is not — 
nor was it ever — some tale of dark fancy featuring ogres and happy 
endings. Possession is real; and real prices are paid. 

Now, in America of the 1990s, there is little question of demonic 
Possession as an entertainment. Among families everywhere and at 
every level of society, there is instead a justifiable fear. Most of all, this 
fear is for children. And in point of fact, there are few families not 


already affected in some way by Satanism. Even by ritualistic Satan- 
ism—formal ceremonies and rites organized and performed by indi- 
viduals and groups in professed worship of Satan. 

For obvious reasons, we don't know everything about organized 
Satanist groups, or covens as they are called, in the United States. But 
the ample knowledge we do have justifies the fear among average 
families for their children and their way of life in the future. 

We know, for example, that throughout all fifty states of the Union, 
there are now something over 8,000 Satanist covens. We know that in 
any major American city or large town, a Black Mass — almost always 
organized by covens — is available on a weekly basis at least, and at 
several locations. We know that the average membership of Satanist 
covens is drawn from all the professions as well as from among politi- 
cians, clergy, and religious. 

We know further that within those covens, a certain amount of 
"specialization" has come about. One can choose either a heterosex- 
ual or a homosexual coven, for example. In at least three major cities, 
members of the clergy have at their disposal at least one pedophiliac 
coven peopled and maintained exclusively by and for the clergy. 
Women religious can find a lesbian coven maintained in a similar way. 

We know, too, that in many public schools in any major city, it is a 
virtual surety that there is at least one group of teenagers engaged in 
ritualist Satanism. And though we know very little — again for obvi- 
ous reasons — about human sacrifice as an element in ritualist Satan- 
ism, we do know that in certain covens in which confidentiality is an 
absolute, life-or-death condition, the penalty for attempting to quit 
the coven is ritual death by knife, with one stab wound inflicted for 
every year of the offending member's life. 

Hard admissible evidence concerning human sacrifice as an ele- 
ment in Satanist rituals is limited by the fact that disposal of human 
remains has been developed into one of the dark art forms within 
Satanist circles through use of portable incinerators and cremetoria; 
and because there are no birth or baptismal records — no records of 
existence — of intended Victim infants. 

Nevertheless, we have enormous amounts of anecdotal evidence 
indicating that some thousands of infants and children are intention- 
ally conceived and born to serve as Victims in Satanist sacrificial 
rites. In the world of Satanist worship, boys are preferred as gender- 
replicas of the Christ Child. But girls are by no means excluded. 


In this regard, the emergence of child abuse as a characteristic of 
our time must claim particular attention. Not all — perhaps not even 
most — child abuse originates in ritualist Satanism per se. Each case 
must be weighed on the evidence. But the extent of child abuse in 
America today and the concrete evidence of Satanism as a factor in 
many such cases, begins to give some idea of the degree to which the 
inverted standards that are the prime hallmark of Satanist activity in 
any form — and of ritualist Satanism above all — have infiltrated and 
influenced all levels of our society. 

As horrifying as even that much information is — though it is not all 
of the information we have, by any means — still more shocking is the 
realization of the fact that in this, the America of the 1990s, one is 
never far from a center where such activity is carried out on a routine 
basis. No one lives far from some geographical area where some form 
of ritualistic Satanism is practiced. Ritualistic Satanism and its in- 
evitable consequence, demonic Possession, are now part and parcel 
of the atmosphere of life in America. 

That a more favorable climate exists now than ever before for the 
occurrence of demonic Possession among the general population is 
so clear, that it is attested to daily by competent social and psycholog- 
ical experts, who for the most part, appear to have no "religious bias." 

Our cultural desolation — a kind of agony of aimlessness coupled 
with a dominant self-interest — is documented for us in the disin- 
tegration of our families. In the breakup of our educational system. 
In the disappearance of publicly accepted norms of decency in lan- 
guage, dress and behavior. In the lives of our youth, everywhere 
deformed by stunning violence and sudden death; by teenage preg- 
nancy; by drug and alcohol addiction; by disease; by suicide; by fear. 
America is arguably now the most violent of the so-called developed 
nations of the world. 

Parents do have every reason to be concerned, then. For above all, 
the greatest changes in the conditions in which we have come to live 
over the past twenty years or so have meant that young people are left 
as the most defenseless against the possibility of Possession. Raised 
more and more in an atmosphere where moral criticism is not 
merely out of fashion, but prohibited, they swim with little help in a 
veritable sea of pornography. Not merely sexual pornography, but the 
pornography of unmitigated self-interest. Whether spoken or acted 


out without explanation, the dominant question of the younger 
generations among us is, What can you do for me? What can my par- 
ents, my friends, my acquaintances, my enemies, my government, my 
country, do for me? 

The difficulty is that as individuals and as a society, we are no 
longer willing— many of us are no longer able — to give an answer to 
that question that will satisfy anyone for long. 

Such pervasive cultural desolation is the most fertile ground one 
could possible imagine for the causes of Possession to take root and 
flourish in almost unimpeded freedom. It is in this context that 
Satanism — including ritualized Satanism — is causing such justified 
fear among so many parents for their children. For, it is in that con- 
text that at least some may best be sought out by that Ancient Enemy 
of our race who, in the words St. Peter used in one of his letters, 
"prowls around like a lion seeking whom he can devour." 

To describe the situation in which Satanist activity is flourishing 
around us is one thing. But it is essential to identify in an equally can- 
did manner at least a few of the major cultural and religious factors 
that have contributed most importantly to such a state of affairs. 

In doing so, it is difficult to resist the conclusion that the vigorous 
state of ritualist Satanism, and the difficulty of dealing with it effec- 
tively, are at least enhanced by the noticeably changed mentality 
among Christian churchmen. As a Roman Catholic priest, I speak 
most pointedly of Catholic bishops and priests. But there is responsi- 
bility enough to go around, alas. 

Exorcism, as exemplified in the five cases described in the pages 
of Hostage to the Devil, deals with a bodiless, genderless creature 
whom Jesus identified by name as Lucifer, and as Satan. A creature 
whom Jesus identified further as "the Father of Lies and a Murderer 
from the Beginning." The existence and the activities of Satan are 
integral elements in traditional Roman Christianity, and in all other 
genuine forms of that religion. 

Originally an Archangel, Lucifer led a rebellion in disobedience to 
God and, with his legions of companion angels, was condemned out- 
right by God to Hell. In their state of eternal separation from their 
Creator, these creatures have always been known as demons. 

In God's mysterious providence, Satan has a certain liberty to try to 


thwart God's will that all men and women be cleansed of personal sin 
and die in God's friendship and love. 

To the extent that Satan acquires a certain number of individuals 
as his worshippers and servants in this world, he is successful in his 
continuing rebellion. Further, such individuals as Lucifer acquires 
serve his purpose in willingly corrupting and co-opting other human 
beings to worship and serve him. 

Worship, as a word used in the Satanist context, like all other 
Satanist terms, mirrors both the mind and the intent of Lucifer him- 
self. It connotes the contradictory— the pointed and intentional 
opposite — of its Christian meaning. 

The essence of Christian worship is love. The essence of Satanist 
worship is hate. For the Fallen Archangel now embodies a full hatred 
of being, as such. Hatred of life, love, beauty, happiness, truth — of all 
that makes existence the greatest possible good. Satanist worship is a 
celebration of all that. 

In broad outline, that is the basic knowledge and understanding of 
Satan, and of the Satanist agenda, that Christians have always had. 

Since Hostage to the Devil was first published in 1976, however, 
diminished belief among Christian churchmen — including, promi- 
nently, the Roman Catholic hierarchy and clergy— has relegated the 
very existence of Satan to the same fate as basic Roman Catholic and 
Christian teaching about Hell, angels, Purgatory, personal sin, and 
such essential Sacraments as Confession and the Eucharist. 

It has been said by one mainstream Protestant clergyman in this 
regard that — disagreement with the Roman Catholic Church not- 
withstanding—the Catholic Church was always the anchor. With that 
anchor lost, all flounder. Because so many in the Roman Catholic hier- 
archy no longer accept these beliefs — no longer either profess or teach 
accurate doctrine about the Sacraments, even — opposition to Satan- 
ism, including ritualistic Satanism, has been considerably diminished. 

On the other side of the coin — Lucifer's side — the belief that he 
does not exist at all is an enormous advantage that he has never 
enjoyed to such a great degree. It is the ultimate camouflage. Not to 
believe in evil is not to be armed against it. To disbelieve is to be dis- 
armed. If your will does not accept the existence of evil, you are ren- 
dered incapable of resisting evil. Those with no capacity of resistance 
become prime targets for Possession. 


Just as the practical impact of large numbers of faithful clergy 
among us was once so great, so now are the practical consequences 
for us all — believers and nonbelievers alike — of large numbers of 
unfaithful churchmen. 

Among the general population of Catholics and Christians of other 
denominations, large numbers of people no longer learn even so 
basic a prayer as the Our Father. In churches and parochial schools 
alike, the subject of Hell is avoided, as one midwestern priest put it, 
in order not to put people "on a guilt trip." The idea of sin is likewise 
avoided, according to the same source, in order not to do "irreparable 
damage to what has been taught for the past fifteen years." 

That much alone leaves every Christian at a profound and needless 
disadvantage in the confrontation with evil that life brings to each of 
us. Deeply felt prohibitions against mixing what is termed the 
"rational" with the faith that is necessary for the recognition of evil is, 
for many, an insurmountable obstacle. And without the grace that is 
born of true faith, Satan does what he does best — he ceases to exist 
in the eyes of those who do not see. 

Still, the most dramatic and immediate harm by far that results 
from such an extensive and pervasive lack of instruction falls upon 
the true and valid victims of Possession. The individual victims of 
personal evil, in their thousands. 

The Church is the only element in society with the authority and 
the availing remedy to counteract such manifest evil. If, then, the 
officials charged with this basic duty of the Church deny the very 
legacy of that Church — if they turn their backs even on Scriptural 
descriptions of Christ casting out demons; if they characterize those 
accounts as false and as literary license — then actual victims of true 
demonic activity are left with no hope. 

"If the salt has lost its saltiness," St. Mark quotes Christ, "where- 
with will you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace with 
one another." In a nutshell, that is the condition of some of our 
clergy; and it is the plight of the Possessed in America of the 1990s. 
If the Church Fathers no longer believe, then victims of demonic 
Possession have nowhere to turn. They have no place to seek the 
help they require and to which they have every right as afflicted 

To combine known, valid Possession with hopelessness must 
surely cause the worst kind of insanity, if not death. It is a terrible 


condemnation. But at least as terrible is that those very men whose 
vocation is to believe and carry out all that the Church has held since 
its beginning, have abandoned those they still profess to serve in the 
name of Christ. 

The circle of helplessness and suffering caused by such unfaith 
among churchmen does not stop with ordinary Christians and with 
the Possessed, however. It widens much further. 

Because of the nature of the outrages that occur in the course of 
ritualistic Satanism — some extreme cases of child abuse and serial 
killings are but two ready examples — officers of the law frequently 
enter the picture. Faced with undeniable evidence of a Satanist 
context — evidence such as Pentagrams, broken crucifixes, Satanist 
graffiti, and other such paraphernalia — law officers were once able 
to call on the help of clergymen expert in dealing with demonic 

Such help is rarely available today. Rather, ignorance, disinterest, 
disbelief, even adamant unwillingness on the part of many Church 
officials to so much as discuss demonic Possession and Exorcism, is 
literally the order of the day. 

In point of fact, in the Roman Catholic Church, the Order of the 
Exorcist — part of every priest's ordination since time immemorial — 
has been omitted from the new rite of priestly ordination, as drawn 
up by innovators after 1964 in the wake of the Second Vatican 

Because both demonic Possession and its remedy, the Rite of 
Exorcism, are thus seen by many officials and their advisors to be 
irrelevant — to be as negligible as, say, training in the use of a medi- 
eval astrolabe — many Catholic dioceses, large and small, in the 
United States have no official Exorcist. 

In some of the more fortunate dioceses, where priests bring in ad 
hoc Exorcists from out of town, the bishops of those dioceses know 
nothing and want to know less. But if they are not exactly benign, at 
least they turn a blind eye. And as permission of the bishop is 
required for Exorcism to proceed, that blind eye can be, and is, taken 
as "tacit permission." 

In other dioceses, however, bishops are expressly opposed to the 
rite of Exorcism. Even in such situations, there are priests who still 
bring Exorcists from out of town. Their canonical justification even 
here is that the bishop has given "presumed permission." That is, if 


the bishop believed what he should believe as bishop, and further, if 
he knew about and recognized as valid a particular case of demonic 
Possession, then it can be presumed he would authorize the 

Such theological reasoning and canonical shenanigans are not 
only tortuous. They present a scenario that comes right out of the 
catacombs. For the result is what can only be called an Exorcism 
underground. A group of priests in one diocese networks in great and 
guarded secrecy with those of other dioceses, in order to fulfill their 
obligations to the faithful in need. 

Ecclesiastically, this situation gives rise to irregularities, to be sure. 
It also leads in some cases to unjustly imposed canonical sanctions by 
irate and unbelieving bishops who maintain that their authority is 
thus being flouted. 

Even in such difficult circumstances, however, the incidence of 
Exorcism has been on a steady rise. There has been a 750 percent 
increase in the number of Exorcisms performed between the early 
1960s and the mid-1970s. Over the same period, there has been an 
alarming increase in the number of requested Possessions — that is, 
cases in which the Possessed formally request Satan to possess 
them — in comparison to the cases of incurred Possessions, which 
result from other sorts of activities of the Possessed that facilitate 

Each year, some 800 to 1,300 major Exorcisms, and some thou- 
sands of minor Exorcisms are performed. For experts in the field, this 
is a sobering barometer of the increase in known cases of Possession. 
But it is still more sobering to realize how many more cases of Posses- 
sion cannot be addressed at all. The thousands of letters I receive 
from people who are desperate for help — Catholic, Protestant, Evan- 
gelical, and unchurched — are eloquent, anguished, and a steadily 
mounting testimony to the crisis. 

Law officers, meanwhile, are increasingly confronted on every side 
by the incontrovertible signs of crimes committed in the course of 
ritualistic Satanism or as a grisly result of an individual's participation 
in such rituals. They are very often left out of the shrunken loop of 
expert advice and assistance. Advice and assistance that was once 
routinely to be found. 

To those who are active in the field of Exorcism, and who therefore 
acquire a greater than usual ability to uncover and recognize the 


marks of ritualistic Satanism for what they are, it is clear that in many 
police precincts the Satanist character of a crime is either relegated 
to the background or not mentioned at all — at least in public reports. 

By and large, the police have no other choice. They have neither 
competence nor authority in the rarefied, and dangerous field of 
Satanist behavior. Beyond the fact that a meaningless recounting of 
Satanist details often inspires imitation, any attempt by an officer — or 
by anyone, including a trained and authorized Exorcist, as the five 
cases recounted in Hostage to the Devil make clear — to free an indi- 
vidual from a possessing demon places the aspiring rescuer in great 
danger of demonic attack. 

A similar lack of help is faced as well by therapists, psychologists, 
psychiatrists, social workers, and others who, like police, must deal with 
aberrant individuals. For, within the present context of life in America, 
the probability of Possession having occurred in overtly sadistic or 
otherwise violent, antisocial individuals is impressively high. 

To the problem faced by law officers and others who must deal 
with the afflictions of Satanism, the most effective answer would be 
the development of a close and balanced collaboration with those 
who are knowledgeable and experienced in the confidential, per- 
sonal, and dangerous field of Possession and Exorcism. 

To develop such a grid of cooperation in the present era, however, 
may be next to impossible — given all the circumstances outlined 
above, and others besides. Like the Possessed with whom they regu- 
larly come in contact, such professionals are left to deal with the 
problem as best they can, using the ultimately inadequate tools 
provided in secular codes of law and common behavior. 

As usual, however, it is the men and women of the general public 
who pay the greatest price. For, even though most of us pass all our 
years without coming directly across any Satanist coven as such, and 
without being approached with a view to joining a coven, the absence 
of any such interdisciplinary grid of cooperation among experts and 
professionals has consequences that affect every one of us. 

Concrete evidence in a substantial number of crimes — in certain 
cases of child abuse again, for example; and in the rising national 
plague of seemingly motiveless or unprovoked teen-age murders, 
suicides, and rapes — lead some secular investigators to the correct 
idea that one ring of child abusers, say, may be organizationally 
linked to other such groups. 


Yet, as things stand at the moment, there is no lawfully admissible 
evidence that a national organization of Satanist groups, or covens, 
exists. Or that coven members in the United States and Canada are 
consciously and deliberately engaged in a nationwide and cross- 
border conspiracy. Indeed, in the United States covens can claim the 
constitutional protection of law for their rites and ceremonies, 
provided no infraction of that law can be attributed to them during 
their professional activities as coven members. 

Although the Satanist element in such groups may not be a direct 
and official concern of secular law— may, indeed, be officially off lim- 
its to the law— laws are nevertheless broken in the pursuit of Satanist 
worship. Understanding that such groups exist in large numbers from 
coast to coast, that some of those groups may be linked with other 
groups, and that their activities frequently and expertly turn secular 
law on its head, would doubtless go some distance in enlarging the 
circle of legal competence to deal with some part of the problem, at 
least on one level. 

If to disbelieve is to be disarmed, the reverse is equally true. Given 
the general conditions that surround us in our present society, it 
becomes all the more important to realize that even in the worst con- 
ditions, no person can be Possessed without some degree of coopera- 
tion on his or her part. It is extremely important to be aware of at 
least some of the factors that are likely to facilitate collaboration 
between a possessing demon and the Possessed. 

The effective cause of Possession is the voluntary collaboration of 
an individual, through his faculties of mind and will, with one or 
more of those bodiless, genderless creatures called demons. 

While there are no causes of demonic Possession that can be phys- 
ically dissected or otherwise reduced to our currently shrunken, 
laboratory standards of "objectivity," it is and always has been both 
possible and necessary to speak of those causes with theological 

Demonic Possession is not a static condition, an unchanging state. 
Nor does one become Possessed suddenly, the way one might break 
an arm or catch the measles. Rather, Possession is an ongoing process. 
A process that affects the two faculties of the soul: the mind, by 
which an individual receives and internalizes knowledge. And the 
will, by which an individual chooses to act upon that knowledge. 


Ample experience with the Possessed has clearly demonstrated 
that there are certain identifiable factors that dispose an individual to 
collaborate, in mind and will, with a Possessing demon. Disposing 
factors, therefore. 

The presence of such disposing factors in a person's life does not in 
itself portend that the person will surely one day be numbered 
among the Possessed. At the same time, and with only rare excep- 
tions in my experience, one or several of these disposing factors are 
operational in genuine cases of Possession. 

Some of the most common disposing factors have been with us for 
a long time, while others are of more recent vintage. Some are in the 
nature of "instruments" outside the individual — the Ouija Board, for 
example, and the Spiritual Seance. Others are in the nature of "atti- 
tudes," whether taught or self-learned, that are interiorized by the 
person —Transcendental Meditation and the Enneagram Method are 
two of the most prominent in this category 

In the context of Possession, all disposing factors produce within a 
person a condition of those two faculties of soul — mind and will — that 
is most aptly described as an aspiring vacuum. Vacuum, because there 
is created an absence of clearly defined and humanly acceptable con- 
cepts for the mind. Aspiring, because there is a corresponding absence 
of clearly defined and humanly acceptable goals for the will. 

In the case of the Ouija Board, or that of the Seance or TM or the 
Enneagram Method, the participants must dispose themselves pre- 
cisely with a view to being opened up; to becoming desirous and 
accepting of whatever happens along. 

The very term, Ouija, for example, is a display of this opening up 
for the term is composed of the French and German words — Qui and 
Ja — for Yes. The attitude of the participant in Ouija is literally "Yes, 
yes." The mind is to be made receptive to whatever suggestions or 
concepts are presented. If participants also dispose their wills to 
accept those concepts and act on them, then the predisposing circuit 
is complete. The aspiring vacuum is operative and is powerful 
enough to flood the mind with appropriate concepts that can make a 
bid for the will's assent. 

Often enough, the mind and the will are opened up in precisely 
this fashion in view of Possession. 

Among the vast array of disposing factors likely to lead to Posses- 
sion, the Enneagram Method is nowadays far and away the most 


common and pernicious. Given the general state of religion, it is not 
surprising that the Method's popularity is enormously enhanced by 
its having been enthusiastically adopted and propagated by Catholic 
theologians and teachers from the major religious Orders — Jesuit, 
Dominican, and Franciscan — and by some of the official organs used 
by the bishops of the United States and Canada charged with teach- 
ing religious doctrine to young and adult Catholics. 

Moreover, because the Enneagram Method is currently presented 
as an authorized teaching of the North American Forum on the 
Catechumenate — the body that supplies to the parishes and dio- 
ceses of the United States and Canada precisely those materials 
intended to bring communities and individuals to maturity of 
faith — the Method penetrates the full fabric of religious belief and 
participation, literally from cradle to grave. 

So effective has the Enneagram Method become in strangling gen- 
uine Catholic faith, that it is now considered by some as the most 
lethal threat to date in the campaign being waged to liquidate ortho- 
dox Catholic belief among the faithful. 

True to its name — enneagram means "nine points," or "marks'— the 
Enneagram is a nine-pointed mandala-type figure within a circle. 
The mandala character of the Enneagram is meant to represent the 
lotus and, as described by Swiss psychologist Carl Jung, is "a symbol 
depicting the endeavor to reunite the self." 

The Enneagram came to the West from a now dead Asianic spiri- 
tual master, George Ivanovich Gurdjieff. Gurdjieff claimed in turn 
that it originated with the Sufi Masters of Islam. It reached the 
United States via "spiritual teachers" in Chile, Bolivia, and Peru and 
in the early 1970s was first broadcast here from the Esalen Institute 
in Big Sur, California, and Loyola University in Chicago. There is now 
abundant literature on the subject. 

According to Enneagram teaching, there are exactly nine types of 
human personality, each of which is represented by one of the nine 
points of the Enneagram figure. Each human being is inalterably 
confined to one, and only one, of those personality types. But within 
his or her type, each person is infinitely self-perfectible. 

Two characteristics of the Enneagram Method comprise moral 
teachings that are irreconcilable with the basic moral teachings of 
Catholics in particular and Christians in general. 


The basic presumption presented to the mind by the Enneagram 
Method is that each individual is self-perfectible, morally speaking, 
within that individual's personality type. 

This presumption is in reality a late revival of an ancient heresy 
known as Pelagianism. It is at odds with the basic Christian teaching 
that we absolutely depend on the action of divine grace for all moral 
perfection. Of ourselves, we are helpless. Not only are we not infi- 
nitely self-perfectible; we will never of ourselves even escape the grip 
of our sinful nature. Only supernatural grace enables us to do that. 
And that grace is simply gratuitous on God's part. 

The teaching of the Enneagram Method cuts both God and his 
grace out of the loop. In fact, there is no longer any loop at all. The 
individual is cut off from effective knowledge of his or her depen- 
dence on God and his supernatural grace for ultimate perfection. He 
or she is confined to an inalterable personality type, which has been 
laid out by Enneagram Masters. 

The second faulty moral characteristic of the Enneagram Method 
completes the damage caused by the first. Having fatalistically ac- 
cepted one's own category, the participant is dependent for perfec- 
tion on the Enneagramatic exercises suitable for one's personality 
type. In other words, the soul of the Enneagram disciple is opened 
out and made docile, with the goal of receiving the promised self- 
knowledge congruent with his or her type. The soul becomes an apt 
and classic receptor — an aspiring vacuum — ready for the approach 
of an intending Possessor. 

In such a setting, the intending Possessor may come as what St. 
Paul described with dramatic precision as an Angel of Light. But the 
danger is all the more insidious for that. For in such a situation, the 
condition commonly called "perfect Possession" may be the result. 

As the term implies, a victim of perfect Possession is absolutely 
controlled by evil and gives no outward indication, no hint what- 
soever, of the demonic residing within. He or she will not cringe, as 
others who are Possessed will, at the sight of such religious symbols 
as a crucifix or a Rosary. The perfectly Possessed will not bridle at the 
touch of Holy Water, nor hesitate to discuss religious topics with 

If convicted of crimes against the law, such a victim will frequently 
acknowledge "guilt," and even the moral "badness" of the acts 


committed. More often than not, such a person will petition that his 
physical life be forfeited; that he be executed for his crimes. Thus, in 
his own way, he voices the insistent Satanist preference for death over 
life, and the fixated desire to join the Prince in his kingdom. 

Because there is no will left to call the victim's own — and because 
some part of the victim's will is necessary for any hope of successful 
Exorcism — remedy is unlikely to succeed even in the event the Pos- 
session should somehow be uncovered and verified as the problem. 

In a very real sense, all of us — the Possessed, the professionals who 
must so frequently deal with them; the parents who fear for their 
children; everyone who lives in a society degraded by happenings 
that were only recently unimaginable to us — all are in the same boat. 

Even such a sober-sided and rationally minded publication as The 
New York Times sees fit from time to time to print the most somber 
laments and predictions. Take, for example, the March 15, 1992, arti- 
cle by Robert Stone in which he says flatly that "our nation signifies 
the virtual apotheosis of the interested self." And in which he goes on 
to point out that "human nature rejects [self interest] as an end, 
requiring something higher and finer." Then, speaking pointedly of 
the younger generations among us, Stone raises a bleak warning: "If 
we cannot furnish them with a cause beyond the realization of their 
individual desires, all [of America's] past successes may be rendered 

That is but one warning parents all across this land might well see 
fit to tack on the door of every recalcitrant bishop, every unbelieving 

They might justifiably tack on those doors as well a reminder of St. 
Paul's admonition to the sorcerer Elymas. On the pretext of instruct- 
ing Sergius Paulus, "a prudent man," Elymas attempted instead to 
corrupt him. Never one to suffer such duplicity or to mince words, 
always prepared to bare his own soul, Paul, we are told, "filled with 
the Holy Ghost," rounded against the pretender. "Oh, full of all guile 
and of all deceit"— Paul said that day— "son of the devil, enemy of all 
justice, you do not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord." 

Yet, surely the most important reminder to our churchmen is also 
the simplest and the most direct. A reminder of the admonition of 
Christ himself to his Apostles as they were beset in their little boat by 


the fury of a storm on Lake Gennesaret: "How is it that you have no 

Of the five Exorcees whose cases are recounted in Hostage to the 
Devil, none was perfectly Possessed. Hence, they were all apt sub- 
jects for the Rite of Exorcism. Their fortunes and lives have varied 
considerably since their individual Exorcisms. None fell back into 

Marianne K. took training as a dental technician, married, and lived 
for nearly seventeen years. She died of cancer in the early 1980s. 

Jonathan Yves is retired from the active priesthood. He entered 
the field of computers for a time, but has since abandoned that work 
and now lives with relatives. He never married. 

Richard O. led a very active life as a counselor and therapist for a 
number of years in the United States before he migrated to Europe, 
where he died at the end of the last decade. 

Jamsie Z. pursued his career in radio and is now semi-retired as 
the president of a company he founded. 

Carl V. tested his religious vocation in more than one monastery 
before he decided to live almost as a hermit in a remote part of the 
United States. More than the other four Excorcees described in Hos- 
tage to the Devil, Carl attained what more than one of his acquain- 
tances readily call holiness. In the last two or three years of his life, he 
was graced with a special insight into the spiritual anguish of men 
and women who sought him out for counsel. Many of them speak of 
the radiance in his look and the power he had to bring peace to trou- 
bled minds. 

Of the Exorcists who presented themselves as hostages to Satan 
for the liberation of his victims, Father Peter, Father David M., and 
Father Gerald are dead. Father Mark A. is living in a home for retired 
priests. Father Hartney F. may be the only one to reach the age of one 
hundred. Still living and retired to a nursing home, Father Hartney is 
afflicted with severe arthritis and is able to say Mass only with intense 

All five of these Exorcists trained several other men and included 
in their instruction the wisdom and the selflessness needed for any- 
one who would voluntarily give himself as hostage in order to liberate 
another from the bondage of Possession. 


The epitaph on the tombstone of the gentle Father Gerald is tes- 
timony to the vocation of all these men, and it is witness to the source 
of their strength. For that epitaph is from the mouth of the loving 
Lord in whose glory Gerald now rests: "Greater love than this no man 
hath, than that a man lay down his life for his friend." 

Malachi Martin 
New York 
April 1992 

How are you fallen from Heaven, 

Lucifer! Son of the Dawn! 

Cut down to the ground! 

And once you dominated the peoples! 

Didn't you say to yourself: 

I will be as high as Heaven! 

I will be more exalted than the stars of God! 

I will, indeed, be the supreme leader! 

In the privileged places! 

I will be higher than the Skies! 

I will be the same as the Most High God! 

But you shall be brought down to Hell, 

to the bottom of its pit. 

And all who see you, 

will despise you. . . . — Isaiah 14:12-19 

. . . "Lord! In your name, even evil spirits are under 
our control!" 

And He said to them: "I saw Satan falling like 

lightning from Heaven. 

You know: I gave you power . . . 

over all the strength of Satan. . . . 

Nevertheless, don't take pride in the fact 

that spirits are subject to your control, 

but, rather, because you belong to God . . . 

The Father has given Me all power. . . ." — Luke 10:17-22 

The Fate 
of an Exorcist 

Michael Strong- 
Part I 

When the search party reached the disused grain store known locally 
as Puh-Chi (One Window), the bombing of Nanking was at its height. 
The night sky was bright with incandescent flares and filled with 
explosions. Japanese incendiaries were wreaking havoc on Nanking's 
wooden buildings. It was December 11, 1937, about 10:00 p.m. The 
Yangtze delta all the way down to the sea was in Japanese hands. 
From Shanghai on the coast to within two miles of Nanking was a 
devastated area on which death had settled like a permanent 
atmosphere. Nanking was next on the invaders' list. And defenseless. 
December 13 was to be its death date. 

For one week the police of a southern Nanking city precinct had 
been looking for Thomas Wu. The charge: murder of at least five 
women and two men in the most horrible circumstances: Thomas Wu, 
the story was, had killed his victims and eaten their bodies. At the end 
of one week's fruitless searching, Father Michael Strong, the mission- 
ary parish priest of the district, who had baptized Thomas Wu, sent 
word unexpectedly that he had found the wanted man in the barnlike 
Puh-Chi. But the police captain did not understand the message 
Father Michael had sent him: "I am conducting an exorcism. Please 
give me some time." * 

* This is the only exorcism reported in this book for which I have no transcript and could not 
conduct extensive interviews. My sole source was Father Michael himself, who recounted these 
events to me and allowed me to read his diaries. 


The main door of Puh-Chi was ajar when the police chief arrived. A 
small knot of men and women stood watching. They could see Father 
Michael standing in the middle of the floor. Over in one corner there 
was another figure, a young, naked man, suddenly ravished by an 
unnatural look of great age, a long knife in his hands. On the shelves 
around the inner walls of the storehouse lay rows and rows of naked 
corpses in various stages of mutilation and putrefaction. 

"YOU!!" the naked man was screaming as the police captain 
elbowed his way to the door, "YOU want to know MY name!" The 
words "you" and "my" hit the captain like two clenched fists across 
the ears. He saw the priest visibly wilt and stagger backward. But, 
even so, it was the voice that made the captain wonder. He had known 
Thomas Wu. Never had he heard him speak with such a voice. 

"In the name of Jesus," Michael began weakly, "you are com- 
manded . . ." 

"Get outa here! Get the hell outa here, you filthy old eunuch!" 

"You will release Thomas Wu, evil spirit, and ..." 

"I'm taking him with me, pigmy," came the voice from Thomas Wu. 
"I'm taking him. And no power anywhere, anywhere, you hear, can 
stop us. We are as strong as death. No one stronger! And he wants to 
come! You hear? He wants to!" 

"Tell me your name ..." 

The priest was interrupted by a sudden roaring. No one there could 
say later how the fire started. An incendiary? A spark carried by the 
wind from burning Nanking? It was like a sudden, noisy ambush 
sprung by a silent signal. In a flash the fire had jumped up, a living red 
weed running around the sides of the storehouse, along the curved 
roof, and across the wooden floor by the walls. 

The police captain was already inside, and he gripped Father 
Michael by the arm, pulling him outside. 

The voice of Wu pursued them over the noise: "It's all one. Fool! 
We're all the same. Always were. Always." 

Michael and the captain were outside by then and turned around to 

"There's only one of us. One ..." 

The rest of the sentence was drowned in a sudden outburst of 
flaming timbers. 

Now, the glass rectangle of the single window was darkening over 
with smoke and grime. In a few minutes it would be impossible to see 


anything. Michael lurched over and peered in. Against the window he 
could see Thomas' face plastered for an instant of fixed, grinning 
agony. It was a horrible picture, a Bosch nightmare come alive. 

Long, quickly lashing tongues of flame were licking at Thomas' 
temples, neck, and hair. Through the hissing and crackling of the fire, 
Michael could hear Thomas laughing, but very dimly, almost lost to 
the ear. Between the flames he could see the shelves with their 
gray-white load of corpses. Some were melting. Some were burning. 
Eyes oozing out of sockets like broken eggs. Hair burning in little tufts. 
First, fingers and toes and noses and ears, then whole limbs and torsos 
melting and blackening. And the smell. God! That smell! 

Then the fixity of Thomas' grin broke; his face seemed to be 
replaced by another face with a similar grin. At the top speed of a 
kaleidoscope, a long succession of faces came and went, one flickering 
after the other. All grinning. All with "Cain's thumbprint on the chin," 
as Michael described the mark that haunted him for the rest of his life. 
Every pair of lips was rounded into the grinning shape of Thomas' last 
word: "one!" Faces and expressions Michael never had known. Some 
he imagined he knew. Some he knew he imagined. Some he had seen 
in history books, in paintings, in churches, in newspapers, in night- 
mares. Japanese, Chinese, Burmese, Korean, British, Slavic. Old, 
young, bearded, clean-shaven. Black, white, yellow. Male, female. 
Faster. Faster. All grinning with the same grin. More and more and 
more. Michael felt himself hurtling down an unending lane of faces, 
decades and centuries and millennia ticking by him, until the speed 
slowed finally, and the last grinning face appeared, wreathed in hate, 
its chin just one big thumbprint. 

Now the window was completely black. Michael could see nothing. 
"Cain . . ." he began to say weakly to himself. But a stablike 
realization stopped the word in his throat, just as if someone had 
hissed into his inner ear: "Wrong again, fool! Cain's father. I. The 
cosmic Father of Lies and the cosmic Lord of Death. From the 
beginning of the beginning. I ... I ... I ... I ... I .. ." 

Michael felt a sharp pain in his chest. A strong hand was around his 
heart stifling its movement, and an unbearable weight lay on his chest, 
bending him over. He heard the blood thumping in his head and then 
loud, roaring winds. A dazzling flash of light burst across his eyes. He 
slumped to the ground. 

Strong hands plucked Michael away from the window just in time. 


The storehouse was now an inferno. With a tearing crash, the roof 
caved in. The flames shot up triumphantly and licked the outside 
walls, burning and consuming ravenously. 

"Get the old man away from here!" screamed the captain through 
the smoke and the smell. They all drew back. Michael, slung over the 
shoulder of one man, was babbling and sobbing incoherently. The 
captain could barely make his words out: 

"I failed ... I failed ... I must go back. Please . . . Please . . . 
must go back . . . not later . . . please . . ." 

When they got Michael to the hospital, his condition was critical. 
Apart from burns and smoke inhalation, he had suffered a minor heart 
attack. And until the following evening, he continued in a delirium. 

Before the fall of Nanking, he was smuggled out by the faithful 
police captain and a few parishioners. They made their way north- 
westwards, barely escaping the tightening Japanese net. 

On December 14, the Japanese High Command let loose 50,000 of 
their soldiers on the city with orders to kill every living person. The 
city became a slaughterhouse. W r hole groups of men and women were 
used for bayonet and machine-gun practice. Others were burned alive 
or slowly cut to pieces. Rows of children were beheaded by 
samurai-swinging officers competing to see who could take off the most 
heads with one sweep of the sword. Women were raped by squads, 
then killed. Fetuses were torn alive from wombs, carved up, and fed to 
the dogs. 

All told, over 42,000 were murdered. Death enveloped Nanking as it 
had the entire Yangtze delta. Animals and crops died and rotted in the 

It was as though the spirit that Michael had tangled with in the 
microcosm of Thomas W r u's grisly charnel house in the suburbs of 
Nanking — "the Cosmic Lord of Death" — had been let loose over all 
the lands. In the world-shaking events of the war years, some special 
viciousness had been given free rein, had impressed itself on hundreds 
of thousands with the sting of absolute and irresistible authority. 
Death was the strongest weapon. It settled all disputes over who was 
master. And eventually it claimed all as its victims, putting everyone 
on an equal level. In war, where death was the victor, you tried to 
have it on your side. 

Back in Hong Kong, where Michael was finally brought in the late 


summer of 1938 after a considerably roundabout journey, the realists 
knew it was a matter of time before the Japanese winners took all. 

On Christmas Day 1941, Hong Kong became a Japanese possession. 
During the years of occupation Michael lived quietly at Kowloon, 
teaching a little in the schools, doing some pastoral work. He was slow 
in recuperating. 

During that time, everyone was under a strain. Food was scarce. 
Harassment by the occupying Japanese was extreme. And all lived 
with the sure knowledge that, barring miracles, if the Japanese had to 
evacuate the city, they would massacre everyone; and if they stayed 
on, they would eventually kill all they could not enslave. 

Still, Michael took all the physical hardship with greater ease than 
those around him. He suffered two more heart attacks during the 
Japanese occupation, but they did not diminish his spirit in any way. 
He did not feel, as his colleagues did, the intolerable uncertainty, the 
strain of waiting for death at Japanese hands or for liberation by the 
Allies. As some of his acquaintances noticed, his sufferings were not 
chiefly in his body or his mind or his imagination. He had come from 
the interior of China broken in a way neither rest nor food nor loving 
attention could mend. 

To the few who knew his story, it was clear that he had paid only 
part of his price as an exorcist. He frankly told them of that price. And 
of his failure. Both they and he realized he would have to liquidate his 
debt sooner or later. 

His waiting creditor fascinated Michael, was always on his mind. 
For instance, toward the end of the Japanese occupation of Hong 
Kong, he and a friend were watching a flight of American bombers 
progress irnperturbably like enchanted birds through a rain of 
Japanese antiaircraft fire. They deposited their bomb loads, and then 
departed unharmed over the horizon. As the explosions and fires in the 
harbor continued, Michael muttered: "Why does death make the 
loudest noise and the brightest fire?" 

Some weeks later, a man-made light brighter than the sun mush- 
roomed over Hiroshima. A new human record: more people were 
killed and maimed by this one human action than by any other ever 
recorded in the story of man. 

I was not to learn of Michael for some years — or of the special price 
he paid day by day until his death, for his defeat in that strange 
exorcism at Puh-Chi. 

A Brief Handbook 
of Exorcism 

The recent vast publicity about Exorcism has highlighted the plight of 
the possessed as a fresh genre of horror film. The essence of evil is lost 
in the cinematographic effects. And the exorcist, who risks more than 
anyone else in an exorcism, flits across the screen as necessary but, in 
the end, not so interesting as the sound effects. 

The truth is that all three — the possessed, the possessing spirit, and 
the exorcist — bear a close relation to the reality of life and to its 
meaning as all of us experience it each and every day. 

Possession is not a process of magic. Spirit is real; in fact, spirit is the 
basis of all reality. "Reality" would not only be boring without spirit; it 
would have no meaning whatsoever. No horror film can begin to 
capture the horror of such a vision: a world without spirit. 

Evil Spirit is personal, and it is intelligent. It is preternatural, in the 
sense that it is not of this material world, but it is in this material 
world. And Evil Spirit as well as good advances along the lines of our 
daily lives. In very normal ways spirit uses and influences our daily 
thoughts, actions, and customs and, indeed, all the strands that make 
up the fabric of life in whatever time or place. Contemporary life is no 

To compare spirit with the elements of our lives and material world, 
which it can and sometimes does manipulate for its own ends, is a fatal 
mistake, but one that is very often made. Eerie sounds can be 
produced by spirit — but spirit is not the eerie sound. Objects can be 
made to fly across a room, but telekinesis is no more spirit than the 


material object that was made to move. One man whose story is told in 
this book made the mistake of thinking otherwise, and he nearly paid 
with his life when he had to confront the error he had made. 

The exorcist is the centerpiece of every exorcism. On him depends 
everything. He has nothing personal to gain. But in each exorcism he 
risks literally everything that he values. Michael Strong's was an 
extreme example of the fate awaiting the exorcist. But every exorcist 
must engage in a one-to-one confrontation, personal and bitter, with 
pure evil. Once engaged, the exorcism cannot be called off. There will 
and must always be a victor and a vanquished. And no matter what 
the outcome, the contact is in part fatal for the exorcist. He must 
consent to a dreadful and irreparable pillage of his deepest self. 
Something dies in him. Some part of his humanness will wither from 
such close contact with the opposite of all humanness — the essence of 
evil; and it is rarely if ever revitalized. No return will be made to him 
for his loss. 

This is the minimum price an exorcist pays. If he loses in the fight 
with Evil Spirit, he has an added penalty. He may or may not ever 
again perform the rite of Exorcism, but he must finally confront and 
vanquish the evil spirit that repulsed him. 

The investigation that may lead to Exorcism usually begins because 
a man or woman — occasionally a child — is brought to the notice of 
Church authorities by family or friends. Only rarely does a possessed 
person come forward spontaneously. 

The stories that are told on these occasions are dramatic and 
painful: strange physical ailments in the possessed; marked mental 
derangement; obvious repugnance to all signs, symbols, mention, and 
sight of religious objects, places, people, ceremonies. 

Often, the family or friends report, the presence of the person in 
question is marked by so-called psychical phenomena: objects fly 
around the room; wallpaper peels off the walls; furniture cracks; 
crockery breaks; there are strange rumblings, hisses, and other noises 
with no apparent source. Often the temperature in the room where 
the possessed happens to be will drop dramatically. Even more often 
an acrid and distinctive stench accompanies the person. 

Violent physical transformations seem sometimes to make the lives 
of the possessed a kind of hell on earth. Their normal processes of 
secretion and elimination are saturated with inexplicable wrackings 
and exaggeration. Their consciousness seems completely colored by 


the violent sepia of revulsion. Reflexes sometimes become sporadic or 
abnormal, sometimes disappear for a time. Breathing can cease for 
extended periods. Heartbeats are hard to detect. The face is strangely 
distorted, sometimes also abnormally tight and smooth without the 
slightest line or furrow. 

When such a case is brought to their attention, the first and central 
problem that must always be addressed by the Church authorities is: Is 
the person really possessed? 

Henri Gesland, a French priest and exorcist who works today in 
Paris, stated in 1974 that, out of 3,000 consultations since 1968, * 'there 
have been only four cases of what I believe to be demonic possession/' 
T. K. Osterreich, on the other hand, states that "possession has been 
an extremely common phenomenon, cases of which abound in the 
history of religion/' The truth is that official or scholarly census of 
possession cases has never been made. 

Certainly, many who claim to be possessed or whom others so 
describe are merely the victims of some mental or physical disease. In 
reading records from times when medical and psychological science 
did not exist or were quite undeveloped, it is clear that grave mistakes 
were made. A victim of disseminated sclerosis, for example, was taken 
to be possessed because of his spastic jerkings and slidings and the 
shocking agony in spinal column and joints. Until quite recently, the 
victim of Tourette's syndrome was the perfect target for the accusa- 
tion of "Possessed!": torrents of profanities and obscenities, grunts, 
barks, curses, yelps, snorts, sniffs, tics, foot stomping, facial contortions 
all appear suddenly and just as suddenly cease in the subject. 
Nowadays, Tourette's syndrome responds to drug treatment, and it 
seems to be a neurological disease involving a chemical abnormality in 
the brain. Many people suffering from illnesses and diseases well 
known to us today such as paranoia, Huntington's chorea, dyslexia, 
Parkinson's disease, or even mere skin diseases (psoriasis, herpes I, for 
instance), were treated as people "possessed" or at least as "touched" 
by the Devil. 

Nowadays, competent Church authorities always insist on thorough 
examinations of the person brought to them for Exorcism, an 
examination conducted by qualified medical doctors and psychiatrists. 

When a case of possession is reported by a priest to the diocesan 
authorities, the exorcist of the diocese is brought in. If there is no 
diocesan exorcist, a man is appointed or brought from outside the 


Sometimes the priest reporting the exorcism will have had some 
preliminary medical and psychiatric tests run beforehand in order to 
allay the cautious skepticism he is likely to meet at the chancery when 
he introduces his problem. When the official exorcist enters the case, 
he will usually have his own very thorough examinations run by 
experts he knows and whose judgment he is sure he can trust. 

In earlier times, one priest was usually assigned the function of 
exorcist in each diocese of the Church. In modern times, this practice 
has fallen into abeyance in some dioceses, mainly because the 
incidence of reported possession has decreased over the last hundred 
years. But in most major dioceses, there is still one priest entrusted 
with this function — even though he may rarely or never use it. In some 
dioceses, there is a private arrangement between the bishop and one of 
his priests whom he knows and trusts. 

There is no official public appointment of exorcists. In some 
dioceses, "the bishop knows little about it and wants to know less'' — as 
in one of the cases recorded in this book. But however he comes to his 
position, the exorcist must have official Church sanction, for he is 
acting in an official capacity, and any power he has over Evil Spirit can 
only come from those officials who belong to the substance of Jesus' 
Church, whether they be in the Roman Catholic, the Eastern 
Orthodox, or the Protestant Communions. Sometimes a diocesan priest 
will take on an exorcism himself without asking his bishop, but all such 
cases known to me have failed. 

It is recognized both in the pre-exorcism examinations and during 
the actual exorcism that there is usually no one physical or psychical 
aberration or abnormality in the possessed person that we cannot 
explain by a known or possible physical cause. And, apart from normal 
medical and psychological tests, there are other possible sources for 
diagnosis. However rickety and tentative the findings of parapsychol- 
ogy, for example, one can possibly seek in its theories of telepathy and 
telekinesis an explanation of some of the signs of possession. Sugges- 
tion and suggestibility, as modern psychotherapists speak of them, can 
account for many more. 

Still, with the diagnoses and opinions of doctors and psychologists in 
hand, it is often discovered there are wide margins of fluctuation. 
Competent psychiatrists will differ violently among themselves; and in 
psychology and medicine, ignorance of causes is often obscured by 
technical names and jargon that are nothing more than descriptive 


Nevertheless, the combined medical and psychological reports are 
carefully evaluated and usually weigh heavily in the final judgment to 
proceed or not with an exorcism. If according to those reports there is 
a definite disease or illness which adequately accounts for the behavior 
and symptoms of the subject, Exorcism is usually ruled out, or at least 
delayed to allow a course of medical or psychiatric treatment. 

But finally, reports in hand, all evidence in, Church authorities 
judge the situation from another, special point of view, formed by their 
own professional outlook. 

They believe that there is an invisible power, a spirit of evil; that 
this spirit can for obscure reasons take possession of a human being; 
that the evil spirit can and must be expelled — exorcised — from the 
person possessed; and that this exorcism can be done only in the name 
and by the authority and power of Jesus of Nazareth. The testing from 
the Church's viewpoint is as rigorous in its search as any medical or 
psychological examination. 

In the records of Christian Exorcism from as far back as the lifetime 
of Jesus himself, a peculiar revulsion to symbols and truths of religion 
is always and without exception a mark of the possessed person. In the 
verification of a case of possession by Church authorities, this 
"symptom" of revulsion is triangulated with other physical phenomena 
frequently associated with possession — the inexplicable stench; freez- 
ing temperature; telepathic powers about purely religious and moral 
matters; a peculiarly unlined or completely smooth or stretched skin, 
or unusual distortion of the face, or other physical and behavioral 
transformations; "possessed gravity" (the possessed person becomes 
physically immovable, or those around the possessed are weighted 
down with a suffocating pressure); levitation (the possessed rises and 
floats off the ground, chair, or bed; there is no physically traceable 
support); violent smashing of furniture, constant opening and slam- 
ming of doors, tearing of fabric in the vicinity of the possessed, without 
a hand laid on them; and so on. 

When this triangulation is made of the varied symptoms that may 
occur in any given case, and medical and psychiatric diagnoses are 
inadequate to cover the full situation, the decision will usually be to 
proceed and try Exorcism. 

There has never been, to my knowledge, an official listing of 
exorcists together with their biographies and characteristics, so we 
cannot satisfy our modern craving for a profile of, say, "the typical 


exorcist." We can, however, give a fairly clear definition of the type of 
man who is entrusted with the exorcism of a possessed person. Usually 
he is engaged in the active ministry of parishes. Rarely is he a scholarly 
tvpe engaged in teaching or research. Rarely is he a recently ordained 
priest. If there is any median age for exorcists, it is probably between 
the ages of fifty and sixty-five. Sound and robust physical health is not 
a characteristic of exorcists, nor is proven intellectual brilliance, 
postgraduate degrees, even in psychology or philosophy, or a very 
sophisticated personal culture. In this writer's experience, the 15 
exorcists he has known have been singularly lacking in anything like a 
vivid imagination or a rich humanistic training. All have been sensitive 
men of solid rather than dazzling minds. Though, of course, there are 
many exceptions, the usual reasons for a priest's being chosen are his 
qualities of moral judgment, personal behavior, and religious beliefs — 
qualities that are not sophisticated or laboriously acquired, but that 
somehow seem always to have been an easy and natural part of such a 
man. Speaking religiously, these are qualities associated with special 

There is no official training for an exorcist. Before a priest 
undertakes Exorcism, it has been found advisable — but not always 
possible or practical — for him to assist at exorcisms conducted by an 
older and already experienced priest. 

Once possession has been verified to the satisfaction of the exorcist, 
he makes the rest of the decisions and takes care of all the necessary 
preparations. In some dioceses, it is he who chooses the assistant 
priest. The choice of the lay assistants and of the time and place of the 
exorcism is left to him. 

The place of the exorcism is usually the home of the possessed 
person, for generally it is only relatives or closest friends who will give 
care and love in the dreadful circumstances associated with possession. 
The actual room chosen is most often one that has had some special 
significance for the possessed person, not infrequently his or her own 
bedroom or den. In this connection, one aspect of possession and of 
spirit makes itself apparent: the close connection between spirit and 
physical location. The puzzle of spirit and place makes itself felt in 
many ways and runs throughout virtually every exorcism. There is a 
theological explanation for it. But that there is some connection 
between spirit and place must be dealt with as a fact. 

Once chosen, the room where the exorcism will be done is cleared 


as far as possible of anything that can be moved. During the exorcism, 
one form of violence may and most often does cause any object, light 
or heavy, to move about, rock back and forth, skitter or fly across the 
room, make much noise, strike the priest or the possessed or the 
assistants. It is not rare for people to emerge from an exorcism with 
serious physical wounds. Carpets, rugs, pictures, curtains, tables, 
chairs, boxes, trunks, bedclothes, bureaus, chandeliers, all are re- 

Doors very often will bang open and shut uncontrollably; but 
because exorcisms can go on for days, doors cannot be nailed or locked 
with unusual security. On the other hand, the doorway must be 
covered; otherwise, as experience shows, the physical force let loose 
within the exorcism room will affect the immediate vicinity outside the 

Windows are closed securely; sometimes they may be boarded over 
in order to keep flying objects from crashing through them and to 
prevent more extreme accidents (possessed people sometimes attempt 
defenestration; physical forces sometimes propel the assistants or the 
exorcist toward the windows). 

A bed or couch is usually left in the room (or placed there if 
necessary), and that is where the possessed person is placed. A small 
table is needed. On it are placed a crucifix, with one candle on either 
side of it, holy water, and a prayer book. Sometimes there will also be 
a relic of a saint or a picture that is considered to be especially holy or 
significant for the possessed. In recent years in the United States, and 
increasingly abroad as well, a tape recorder is used. It is placed on the 
floor or in a drawer or sometimes, if it is not too cumbersome, around 
the neck of an assistant. 

The junior priest colleague of the exorcist is usually appointed by 
diocesan authorities. He is there for his own training as an exorcist. He 
will monitor the words and actions of the exorcist, warn him if he is 
making a mistake, help him if he weakens physically, and replace him 
if he dies, collapses, flees, is physically or emotionally battered beyond 
endurance — and all have happened during exorcisms. 

The other assistants are laymen. Very often a medical doctor will be 
among them because of the danger to all present of strain, shock, or 
injury. The number of lay assistants will depend on the exorcist's 
expectation of violence. Four is the usual number. Of course, in 
remote country areas or in very isolated Christian missions, and 


sometimes in big urban centers, there is no question of assistants. 
There simply is none available, or there is no time to acquire any. The 
exorcist must go it alone. 

An exorcist comes to know from experience what he can expect by 
way of violent behavior; and, for their own sakes, possessed people 
must usually be physically restrained during parts of the exorcism. The 
assistants therefore must be physically strong. In addition, there may 
be a straitjacket on hand, though leather straps or rope are more 
commonly used. 

It is up to the exorcist to make sure that his assistants are not 
consciously guilty of personal sins at the time of the exorcism, because 
they, too, can expect to be attacked by the evil spirit, even though not 
so directly or constantly as the exorcist himself. Any sin will be used as 
a weapon. 

The exorcist must be as certain as possible beforehand that his 
assistants will not be weakened or overcome by obscene behavior or 
by language foul beyond their imagining; they cannot blanch at blood, 
excrement, urine; they must be able to take awful personal insults and 
be prepared to have their darkest secrets screeched in public in front 
of their companions. These are routine happenings during exorcisms. 

Assistants are given three cardinal rules: they are to obey the 
exorcist's commands immediately and without question, no matter 
how absurd or unsympathetic those commands may appear to them to 
be; they are not to take any initiative except on command; and they 
are never to speak to the possessed person, even by way of 

Even with all the care in the world, there is no way an exorcist can 
completely prepare his assistants for what lies in store for them. Even 
though they are not subject to the direct and unremitting attack the 
priest will undergo, it is not uncommon for assistants to quit — or be 
carried out — in the middle of an exorcism. A practiced exorcist will 
even go so far as to make a few trial runs of an exorcism beforehand, 
on the old theory that forewarned is forearmed — at least to some 

Timing in an exorcism is generally dictated by circumstances. There 
is usually a feeling of urgency to begin as soon as possible. Everyone 
involved should have an open schedule. Rarely is an exorcism shorter 
than some hours — more often than not ten or twelve hours. Sometimes 
it stretches for two or three days. On occasion it lasts even for weeks. 

Once begun, except on the rarest occasions, there are no time outs, 


although one or other of the people present may leave the room for a 
few moments, to take some food, to rest very briefly, or go to the 
bathroom. (One strange exorcism where there was a time out is 
described in this book. The priest involved would have preferred one 
hundred times going straight through the exorcism rather than suffer 
the mad violence that caused the delay.) 

The only people in an exorcism who dress in a special way are the 
exorcist and his priest assistant. Each wears a long black cassock that 
covers him from neck to feet. Over it there is a waist-length white 
surplice. A narrow purple stole is worn around the neck and hangs 
loosely the length of the torso. 

Normally, the priest assistant and the lay assistants prepare the 
exorcism room according to the exorcist's instructions. They and the 
exorcee are ready in the room when the exorcist enters, last and alone. 

There is no lexicon of Exorcism; and there is no guidebook or set of 
rules, no Baedeker of Evil Spirit to follow. The Church provides an 
official text for Exorcism, but this is merely a framework. It can be 
read out loud in 20 minutes. It merely provides a precise formula of 
words together with certain prayers and ritual actions, so that the 
exorcist has a preset structure in which to address the evil spirit. In 
fact, the conduct of an exorcism is left very much up to the exorcist. 

Nevertheless, any practiced exorcist I have spoken with agrees that 
there is a general progress through recognizable stages in an exorcism, 
however long it may last. 

One of the most experienced exorcists I have known and who was in 
fact the mentor of the exorcist in the first case related in this book, 
gave names to the various general stages of an exorcism. These names 
reflect the general meaning or effect or intent of what is happening, 
but not the specific means used by the evil spirit or by the exorcist. 
Conor, as I call him, spoke of Presence, Pretense, Breakpoint, Voice, 
Clash, and Expubion. The events and stages these names signify occur 
in nine out of every ten exorcisms. 

From the moment the exorcist enters the room, a peculiar feeling 
seems to hang in the very air. From that moment in any genuine 
exorcism and onward through its duration, everyone in the room is 
aware of some alien Presence. This indubitable sign of possession is as 
unexplainable and unmistakable as it is inescapable. All the signs of 
possession, however blatant or grotesque, however subtle or debat- 
able, seem both to pale before and to be marshaled in the face of this 


There is no sure physical trace of the Presence, but everyone feels it. 
You have to experience it to know it; you cannot locate it spatially — 
beside or above or within the possessed, or over in the corner or under 
the bed or hovering in midair. 

In one sense, the Presence is nowhere, and this magnifies the terror, 
because there is a presence, an other present. Not a '"he" or a "she" or 
an "it." Sometimes, you think that what is present is singular, 
sometimes plural. When it speaks, as the exorcism goes on, it will 
sometimes refer to itself as "I" and sometimes as "we," will use "my" 
and "our." 

Invisible and intangible, the Presence claws at the humanness of 
those gathered in the room. You can exercise logic and expel any 
mental image of it. You can say to yourself: "I am only imagining this. 
Careful! Don't panic!" And there may be a momentary relief. But 
then, after a time lag of bare seconds, the Presence returns as an 
inaudible hiss in the brain, as a wordless threat to the self you are. Its 
name and essence seem to be compounded of threat, to be only and 
intensely baleful, concentratedly intent on hate for hate's sake and on 
destruction for destruction's sake. 

In the early stages of an exorcism, the evil spirit will make every 
attempt to "hide behind" the possessed, so to speak — to appear to be 
one and the same person and personality with its victim. This is the 

The first task of the priest is to break that Pretense, to force the 
spirit to reveal itself openly as separate from the possessed — and to 
name itself, for all possessing spirits are called by a name that 
generally (though not always) has to do with the way that spirit works 
on its victim. 

As the exorcist sets about his task, the evil spirit may remain silent 
altogether; or it may speak with the voice of the possessed, and use 
past experiences and recollections of the possessed. This is often done 
skillfully, using details no one but the possessed could know. It can be 
very disarming, even pitiful. It can make everyone, including the 
priest, feel that it is the priest who is the villain, subjecting an innocent 
person to terrible rigors. Even the mannerisms and characteristics of 
the possessed are used by the spirit as its own camouflage. 

Sometimes the exorcist cannot shatter the Pretense for days. But 
until he does, he cannot bring matters to a head. If he fails to shatter it 
at all, he has lost. Perhaps another exorcist replacing him will succeed. 
But he himself has been beaten. 


Every exorcist learns during Pretense that he is dealing with some 
force or power that is at times intensely cunning, sometimes supremely 
intelligent, and at other times capable of crass stupidity (which makes 
one wonder further about the problem of singular or plural); and it is 
both highly dangerous and terribly vulnerable. 

Oddly, while this spirit or power or force knows some of the most 
secret and intimate details of the lives of everyone in the room, at the 
same time it also displays gaps in knowledge of things that may be 
happening at any given moment of the present. 

But the priest must not be lulled by small victories or take chances 
on hoped-for stupidities. He must be ready to have his own sins and 
blunders and weaknesses put into his mind or shouted in ugliness for 
all to hear. He must not make excuses for his past, or wither as even his 
loveliest memories are fingered by ultimate filth and contempt; he 
must not be sidetracked in any way from his primary intention of 
freeing the possessed person before him. And he must at all costs avoid 
trading abuse or getting into any logical arguments with the possessed. 
The temptation to do so is more frequent than one might think, and 
must be regarded as a potentially fatal trap that can shatter not only 
the exorcism, but quite literally shatter the exorcist as well. 

Accordingly, as the Pretense begins to break down, the behavior of 
the possessed usually increases in violence and repulsiveness. It is as 
though an invisible manhole opens, and out of it pours the unmention- 
ably inhuman and the humanly unacceptable. There is a stream of filth 
and unrestrained abuse, accompanied often by physical violence, 
writhing, gnashing of teeth, jumping around, sometimes physical 
attacks on the exorcist. 

A new hallmark of the proceedings enters as the Breakpoint nears, 
and ushers in one of the more subtle sufferings the exorcist must 
undergo: confusion. Complete and dreadful confusion. Rare is the 
exorcist who does not falter here for at least a moment, enmeshed in 
the peculiar pain of apparent contradiction of all sense. 

His ears seem to smell foul words. His eyes seem to hear offensive 
sounds and obscene screams. His nose seems to taste a high-decibel 
cacophony. Each sense seems to be recording what another sense 
should be recording. Each nerve and sinew of onlookers and 
participants becomes rigid as they strive for control. Panic — the fear of 
being dissolved into insanity — inns in quick jabs through everyone 
there. All present experience this increasingly violent and confusing 


assault. But the exorcist is the one who rides the storm. He is the direct 
target of it all. 

The Breakpoint is reached at that moment when the Pretense has 
finally collapsed altogether. The voice of the possessed is no longer 
used by the spirit, though the new, strange voice may or may not issue 
from the mouth of the victim. In Thomas Wu's case, the alien voice 
did come from the possessed 's mouth; and that was why the police 
captain was so startled. The sound produced is often not even 
remotely like any human sound. 

At the Breakpoint, for the first time, the spirit speaks of the 
possessed in the third person, as a separate being. For the first time, 
the possessing spirit acts personally and speaks of "I" or "we," usually 
interchangeably, and of "my" and "our" or "mine" and "ours." 

Another very frequent sign that the Breakpoint has been reached is 
the appearance of what Father Conor called the Voice. 

The Voice is an inordinately disturbing and humanly distressing 
babel. The first few syllables seem to be those of some word 
pronounced slowly and thickly — somewhat like a tape recording 
played at a subnormal speed. You are just straining to pick up the 
word and a layer of cold fear has already gripped you — you know this 
sound is alien. But your concentration is shattered and frustrated by an 
immediate gamut of echoes, of tiny, prickly voices echoing each 
syllable, screaming it, whispering it, laughing it, sneering it, groaning 
it, following it. They all hit your ear, while the alien voice is going on 
unhurriedly to the next syllable, which you then try to catch, while 
guessing at the first one you lost. By then, the tiny, jabbing voices have 
caught up with that second syllable; and the voice has proceeded to 
the third syllable; and so on. 

If the exorcism is to proceed, the Voice must be silenced. It takes an 
enormous effort of will on the part of the exorcist, in direct 
confrontation with the alien will of evil, to silence the Voice. The 
priest must get himself under control and challenge the spirit first to 
silence and then to identify itself intelligibly. 

As in all things to do with Exorcism of Evil Spirit, the priest makes 
this challenge with his own will, but always in the name and by the 
authority of Jesus and his Church. To do so in his own name or by 
some fancied authority of his own would be to invite personal disaster. 
Merely human power unadorned and without aid cannot cope with 
the preternatural. (It is to be remembered that when we speak of the 


preternatural, we are not speaking about what are known as polter- 

Usually, at this point and as the Voice dies out, a tremendous 
pressure of an obscure kind affects the exorcist. This is the first and 
outermost edge of a direct and personal collision with the "will of the 
Kingdom," the Clash. 

We all know from our personal experience that there can be no 
struggle of single personal wills without that felt and intuitive contact 
between two persons. There is a two-way communication that is as 
real as a conversation using words. The Clash is the heart of a special 
and dreadful communication, the nucleus of this singular battle of 
wills between exorcist and Evil Spirit. 

Painful as it will be for him, the priest must look for the Clash. He 
must provoke it. If he cannot lock wills with the evil thing and force 
that thing to lock its will in opposition to his own, then again the 
exorcist is defeated. 

The issue between the two, the exorcist and the possessing spirit, is 
simple. Will the totally antihuman invade and take over? Will it, 
noisome and merciless, seep over that narrow rim where the exorcist 
would hold his ground alone, and engulf him? Or will it, unwillingly, 
protestingly, under a duress greater than its single-track will, stop, 
identify itself, cede, retire, disappear, and be volatilized back into an 
unknown pit of being where no man wants to go ever? 

Even with all the pressure on him, and in fullest human agony, if the 
exorcist has got this far, he must press home. He has gained an 
advantage. He has already forced the evil spirit to come out on its 
own. If he has not been able to until now, he must finally force it to 
give its name. And then, some exorcists feel, the exorcist must pursue 
for as much information as he can. For in some peculiar way, as 
exorcists find, the more an evil spirit can be forced to reveal in the 
Clash and its aftermath, the surer and easier will be the Expulsion 
when that moment comes. To force as complete an identification as 
possible is perhaps a mark of domination of one will over another. 

It is of crucial interest to speculate about the violence provoked by 
Exorcism — the physical and mental struggles that are so extreme they 
can bring on death. Why would spirit battle so? Why not leave and 
waft off invisibly to someone or someplace else? For spirit itself seems 
to suffer in these battles. 

Time and again, in exorcism after exorcism, there occurs that 


curious thing to do with spirit and place, the strange puzzle mentioned 
previously in connection with the room chosen for the exorcism. When 
Jesus expelled the unclean spirits, those spirits showed concern for 
where they might go. In record after record, as well as in several 
exorcisms recounted in this book, the possessing spirits wail in lament 
and questioning pain: "Where shall we go?" "We too have to possess 
our habitation." "Even the Anointed One gave us a place with the 
swine." "Here . . . we can't stay here any longer." 

Evil Spirit, having found a home with a consenting host, does not 
appear to give up its place easily. It claws and fights and deceives and 
even risks killing its host before it will be expelled. How violent the 
struggle probably depends on many things; the intelligence of the 
spirit being dealt with and the degree of possession achieved over 
the victim are perhaps two one could speculate about. 

Whatever determines the actual pitch of violence, once the exorcist 
has forced the invading spirit to identify itself, and sustained the first 
wordless bout of the Clash, and then invoked its formal condemnation 
and expulsion by the Exorcism rite, the immediate result is generally a 
struggle tortuous beyond imagining, an open violence that leaves all 
subtlety behind. 

The person possessed is by now obviously aware in one way or 
another of what possessed him. Frequently he becomes a true 
battleground for much of the remainder of the exorcism, enduring 
unbelievable punishment and strain. 

It is sometimes possible for the exorcist to appeal directly to the 
possessed person, urging him to use some part of his own will still free 
of the spirit's influence and control, and engage directly in the fight, 
aiding the exorcist. And at such moments no animal pinned helplessly 
to the ground struggles more pathetically against the drinking of its 
life's blood by a voracious and superior cruelty. The very nauseous 
character of the possessed person's appearance and behavior appears 
to be a sign of his desire for deliverance, a desperate sign of struggle, 
evidence of a revolt where once he had consented. 

Increasingly what had possessed him is being forced into the open, 
all the while protesting its victim's revolt and its own expulsion. The 
violence of the contortions and the physical disfigurement of the 
possessed can reach a degree one would think he could not possibly 

The exorcist, too, comes in for full attack now. Once cornered, the 
evil spirit seems able to call on a superior intelligence, and will try to 


lure the exorcist on to a field boobytrapped and mined with situations 
from which no human can extricate himself. 

Any weakness in the religious faith that alone sustains the exorcist or 
any fatigue will allow the exorcists mind to be flooded with a terrible 
light he cannot fend off — a light that can burn the very roots of his 
reason and turn him emotionally into the most servile of slaves 
desperate to be liberated from all bodily life. 

These are only some of the dangers and traps that face every 
exorcist. His pain is physical, emotional, mental. He has to deal with 
what is eerie but not enthralling; with something askew, but intelli- 
gently so; with a quality that is upside down and inside out, but 
significantly so. The mordant traits of nightmare are there in full 
regalia, but this is no dream and permits him no thankful remission. 

He is attacked by a stench so powerful that many exorcists start 
vomiting uncontrollably. He is made to bear physical pain, and he feels 
anguish over his very soul. He is made to know he is touching the 
completely unclean, the totally unhuman. 

All sense may suddenly seem nonsense. Hopelessness is confirmed as 
the only hope. Death and cruelty and contempt are normal. Anything 
comely or beautiful is an illusion. Nothing, it seems, was ever right in 
the world of man. He is in an atmosphere more bizarre than Bedlam. 

If, in spite of his emotions and his imagination and his body — all 
trapped at once in pain and anguish — if, in spite of all this, the will of 
the exorcist holds in the Clash, what he does is to approach his final 
function in this situation as an authorized human witness for Jesus. By 
no power of his, on account of no privilege of his own, he calls finally 
on the evil spirit to desist, to be dispossessed, to depart and to leave 
the possessed person. 

And, if the exorcism is successful, this is what happens. The 
possession ends. All present become aware of a change around them. 
The sense of Presence is totally, suddenly absent. Sometimes there are 
receding voices or other noises, sometimes only dead silence. Some- 
times the recently possessed may be at the end of his strength; 
sometimes he will wake up as from a dream, a nightmare, or a coma. 
Sometimes the former victim will remember much of what he has 
been through; sometimes he will remember nothing at all. 

Not so for the exorcists, during and after their grisly work. They 
carry nagging doubts and bitter conflicts untellable to family, friend, 
superior, or therapist. Their personal traumas lie beyond the reach of 
soothing words and deeper than the sweep of any consoling thoughts. 


They share their punishment with none but God. Even that has its 
peculiar sting of difficulty. For it is a sharing by faith and not by 
face-to-face communication. 

But only thus do these men, seemingly ordinary and commonplace 
in their lives, persevere through the days of quiet horror and the nights 
of sleepless watching they spend for years after as their price of 
success, and as abiding reminders that, once upon a time, another 
human being was made whole, because they willingly incurred the 
direct displeasure of living hatred. 

The following five case histories are true. The lives of the people 
involved are told on the basis of extensive interviews with all of the 
principals involved, with many of their friends and relatives, and with 
many others involved directly or indirectly in minor ways. All 
interviews have been independently checked for factual accuracy 
wherever possible. The exorcisms themselves are reproduced from the 
actual tapes made at the time and from the transcripts of those tapes. 
The exorcisms have necessarily been cut for reasons of length; all of 
the exorcisms recorded here lasted more than 12 hours. 

I have chosen these five cases from among a greater number known 
and available to me because, both singly and taken together, they are 
dramatic illustrations of the way in which personal and intelligent evil 
moves cunningly along the lines of contemporary fads and interests, 
and within the usual bounds of experience of ordinary men and 
women. No fourteenth- or fifteenth- or sixteenth-century case, for all 
its possible romantic appeal, would have any relevancy for us today. 
On the contrary, it would remain a simple matter for us to dismiss such 
cases as fables made up to suit the fears or fancies of "more ignorant" 
people of "less sophisticated" times. 

Each case presented here includes as an important element some 
basic attitude or attitudes popular in our own society. In the possessed 
person, it is pushed to a narrow and frightening extreme. 

In the first case, 7Ao 's Friend and the Smiler, the insistence is that 
there is no essential difference between good and evil, and ultimately 
no difference between being and nonbeing; that all values are subject 
only to one's personal preferences. 

In Father Bones and Mister Natch, the compelling idea that was 
seized by Evil Spirit seemed to be that all mysteries can and are 
resolved in "natural" (i.e., rational or scientific or quantifiable) 
explanations; that there can be no relevance for the modern person in 


anything that cannot be rationally understood; and that there can be 
no truth important to man beyond what is rational. 

In The Virgin and the Girl-Fixer, the battle concerned some of the 
great, deep, and mysterious "givens" of our very nature and our 
society — in this case, gender and human love. The priest in this case 
said to me a few months before he died, in one of the most profound 
conversations of my life: "A bird doesn't fly because it has wings. It 
has wings because it flies." We will ignore that mysterious truth in its 
applications to our sexuality and our gender only at our great peril, I 

In Uncle Ponto and the Mushroom-Souper, we have an example of 
what may be happening to many in our modern society — without their 
realizing it and without those around them taking cognizance of it. For 
it seems that there is an individualism, a purely personalistic interpre- 
tation of human life abroad today, which exceeds by far the bounds of 
what used to be known as selfishness and egotism. It has produced in 
thousands of people an aberrant and idiosyncratic behavior which is 
truly destructive. 

In The Rooster and the Tortoise, the fatal confusion (and in this case 
it was literally almost fatal) was between spirit and psyche; between 
those parts and attributes of ours that are quantifiable, and yet through 
which spirit most easily makes itself known. If everything we have 
taken to be of spirit can be made to seem a product merely of the 
human psyche, with no meaning or significance beyond its factualness, 
then love can be made to seem only a chemical interaction, and love's 
paradigm is killed. 

In each case, one basic note of possession is confusion. Sex is 
confused with gender. Spirit is confused with psyche. Moral value is 
confused with absence of any value. Mystery is confused with untruth. 
And, in every case, rational argument is used, not to clarify, but as a 
trap, to foster confusion and to nurture it as a major weapon against 
the exorcist. Confusion, it would seem, is a prime weapon of evil. 

There is much more to be observed and said about the meaning of 
possession. Not everything can be covered in a single volume. But 
possession and Exorcism are not themselves mere fads with no interest 
beyond the bizarre and significantly frightening. They are tangible 
expressions of the reality which envelops the daily lives of ordinary 
people. No study of possession and Exorcism cases within the 
Christian optic would be adequate without a minimum of explanation 
— from the Christian point of view — about that reality: what takes 


place in possession, and how that degrading process develops in a 
particular individual. Such an explanation occupies the final section of 
this book. 

This study makes no attempt to answer the ultimate puzzle of 
possession: why this person rather than that person becomes the object 
of diabolic attack which can end in partial or perfect possession. The 
answer certainly does not lie in psychological probings, in heredity, or 
in social phenomena. A final answer will include, as prime ingredients, 
the personal free choice which each individual makes and the mystery 
of human predestination. About free choice we know the essentials: I 
can choose evil for no other reason or motive than that I choose evil. 
Some apparently do. About predestination we know little or nothing. 
The puzzle remains. 

All of the men and women involved in the five cases reported here 
are known to me personally; they have given their fullest cooperation 
on the condition that their identities and those of their families and 
friends not be revealed. Therefore, all names and places have been 
changed, and other possible pointers to identity have been obscured. 
Any similarity between the cases reported here and any others that 
may have occurred is unintentional and purely coincidental. 


Zio's Friend 
and the Smiler 

Peter took one more breath of fresh air. He was reluctant to pull the 
open window shut against the uproar on 125th Street 15 stories below. 
It was the first time in history that a Roman Pope was driving through 
New York streets, and the very air was alive with excitement. The 
Pope's motorcade had already passed over Willis Avenue Bridge into 
the Bronx on its way to Yankee Stadium. The crowds were still milling 
around. Some nuns scurried about like frenzied penguins blowing 
whistles and marshaling lines of white-clad schoolgirls. Hot-dog 
vendors shouted their prices. A dowdily dressed young woman and her 
child peddled plastic little popes to passersby. Two policemen were 
removing wooden barriers. A garbage truck snorted and honked its 
way through the traffic. Father Peter closed the window finally, drew 
the curtains together, and turned back toward the bed. 

The room was quiet again, except for the irregular breathing of 
twenty-six-year-old Marianne. She lay on a gray blanket thrown over 
the bare mattress. With her faded jeans, yellow body-shirt, auburn hair 
straggling over her forehead, the pallor of her cheeks, and the aging, 
off-white color of the walls around her, she seemed part of a tragically 
washed-out pastel. Except for a funny twist to her mouth, her face had 
no expression. 

To Peter's left, with their backs to the door, stood two bulky men. 
One: an ex-policeman and a friend of the family, a veteran of 32 years 
on the force, where, he thought, he had seen everything. He was about 
to find out that he hadn't. Sixtyish, balding, clad in dungarees, his arms 


folded over his chest, his face was a picture of puzzlement. The other: 
the closest acquaintance of Marianne's father, whom the children 
called uncle, was a bank manager and a grandfather in his midfifties, 
red-faced and jowled, in a blue suit, his arms hanging by his sides, eyes 
fixed on Marianne's face with an expression of helpless fear. Both these 
men, athletic and muscular, had been asked to assist at the exorcism of 
Marianne K., to quell any physical violence or harm she might 
attempt. Marianne's father, a wispy man with reddened eyes and 
drawn face, stood with the family doctor. He was praying silently. 
Peter always insisted on having a member of the family present at an 
exorcism. As if in contrast to the others, the young doctor, a 
psychiatrist, wore a concentrated, almost studious look as he checked 
the girl's pulse. 

Peter's colleague, Father James, a priest in his thirties, stood at the 
foot of the bed. Black-haired, full-faced, youthful, apprehensive, his 
black, white, and purple robes were a uniform for him. On Peter, with 
his tousled gray hair and hollow-cheeked look, the same colors melted 
into a veiled unity. James was dressed up ready to go. Peter, the 
campaigner, had been there. 

On a night table beside James two candles flickered. A crucifix 
rested between them. In one corner of the room there was a chest of 
drawers. "Should have had it removed before we started," Peter 
thought. The chest, originally left there in order to hold a tape 
recorder, had become quite a nuisance. Probably would continue to be 
until the whole business was finished, Peter thought. But he knew 
better than to fiddle with any object in the room, once the exorcism 
had begun. 

It was a Monday, 8:15 p.m., the seventeenth hour into Peter's third 
exorcism in thirty years. It was also his last exorcism, although he 
could not know that. Peter felt sure that he had arrived at the 
Breakpoint in the rite. 

In the few seconds it took him to cross from the window to her bed, 
Marianne's face had been contorting into a mass of crisscrossing lines. 
Her mouth twisted further and further in an S-shape. The neck was 
taut, showing every vein and artery; and her Adam's apple looked like 
a knot in a rope. 

The ex-policeman and her uncle moved to hold her. But her voice 
threw them back momentarily like a whiplash: 

"You dried-up fuckers! You've messed with each other's wives. And 


with your own peenies into the bargain. Keep your horny paws off 

"Hold her down!" Peter spoke peremptorily. Four pairs of hands 
clamped on her. "Jesus have mercy on my baby," muttered her father. 
The ex-policeman's eyes bulged. 

"YOU!" Marianne screamed, as she lay pinned flat on the bed, her 
eyes open and blazing with anger, "YOU! Peter the Eater. Eat my 
flesh, said she. Suck my blood, said she. And you did! Peter the Eater! 
You'll come with us, you freak. You'll lick my arse and like it, 
Peeeeeeeeetrrrrrr," and her voice sank through the "rrrr" to an animal 

Something started to ache in Peter's brain. He missed a breath, 
panicked because he could not draw it, stopped and waited, swaying 
on his feet. Then he exhaled gratefully. To the younger priest he 
looked frail and vulnerable. Father James handed Peter his prayer 
book, and they both turned to face Marianne. 


Almost a year later, in 1966, on the day Peter was buried in Calvary 
Cemetery, his younger colleague, Father James, chatted with me after 
the funeral service. "It doesn't matter what the doctor said" (the 
official report gave coronary thrombosis as cause of death), "he was 
gone, really gone, after that last to-do. Just a matter of time. Mind you, 
it wasn't that he wasn't brave and devoted. He was a real man of God 
before and after the whole thing. But it took that last exorcism to make 
him realize that life knocks the stuffing out of any decent man." Peter 
had apparently never emerged from a gentle reverie after the exorcism 
of Marianne; and he always spoke as if he were talking for the benefit 
of someone else present. It was as exasperating as listening to one 
side of a telephone conversation. 

"He was never the same again," said James. "Some part of him 
passed into the Great Beyond during the final Clash, as you call it." 
Then, after a pause and musingly, almost to himself: "Can you beat 
that? He had to be born in Lisdoonvarna* sixty-two years ago, be 
reared beside Killarney, and come all the way over here three 
times — just to find out the third time where he was supposed to die; 

A town in County Clare, Ireland. 


and how, and when. Makes you think what life's all about. You never 
know how it's going to end. Peter did not become an American citizen, 
even. All that travel. Just to die as the Lord had decided." 

Peter was one of seven children, all boys. His father moved from 
County Clare to Listowel, County Kerry, where he prospered as a 
wine merchant. The family lived in a large two-story house overlook- 
ing the river Feale. They were financially comfortable and respected. 
Their Roman Catholicism was that brand of muscular Christianity 
which the Irish out of all Western nations had originated as their 
contribution to religion. 

Peter spent his youth in the comparative peace of "the old British 
days" before the Irish Republican Brotherhood (parent of the IRA), 
the Irish Volunteers, and the 1916 Rebellion started modern Ireland 
off on the stormy course of fighting for the "terrible beauty" that lured 
Patrick Pearse, James Connolly, Eamonn De Valera, and the other 
leaders into the deathtrap of bloodletting, where, 50 years later, in 
Peter's declining years, blood was still being shed. 

School filled three-quarters of the year for Peter. Summers were 
spent at Beal Strand, at Ballybunion seaside, or harvesting on his 
grandfather's farm at Newtownsands. 

One such summer, his sixteenth, Peter had his only brush with sex. 
He had lain for hours among the sand dunes of Beal Strand with Mae, 
a girl from Listowel whom he had known for about three years. That 
day, their families had gone to the Listowel races. 

Innocent flirting developed into simple love play and finally into a 
fervid exchange of kisses and caresses, until they both lay naked and 
awesomely happy beneath the early-evening stars, the warmth undu- 
lating and glowing sweetly through their bodies as they huddled close 
together. Afterward, Mae playfully nicknamed him "Peter the Eater." 
To calm his fear she added: "Don't worry. No one will know how you 
made love to me. Only me," 

For about a year afterward, he was interested in girls and 
particularly in Mae. Then early in his eighteenth year, he began to 
think of the priesthood. By the time he finished schooling, his mind 
was made up. Peter had told me once: "When we said goodbye, that 
summer of 1922, Mae teased me: If you ever leave the seminary and 
don't marry me, I'll tell everyone your nickname.' She never told a 
human soul. But, of course, they knew." Peter's sole but real enemies 
were the shadowy dwellers of "the Kingdom" whom he vaguely called 


"they." He gave me a characteristic look and stared away over my 
head. Mae had died in 1929 of a ruptured appendix. 

Peter started his studies at Killarney Seminary and finished them at 
Numgret with the Jesuits. He was no brilliant scholar, but got very 
good grades in Canon Law and Hebrew, which he pronounced with an 
Irish brogue ("My grandfather was from one of the Lost Tribes"), 
acquired a reputation for good, sound judgment in moral dilemmas, 
and was renowned locally because with one deft kick of a football he 
could knock the pipe out of a smoker's mouth at 30 yards and not even 
graze the man's face. 

Ordained priest at twenty-five, he worked for six years in Kerry. 
Then he did a first stint in a New York parish for three years. He was 
present twice at exorcisms as an assistant. On a third occasion, when 
he was present merely as an extra help, he had to take over from the 
exorcist, an older man, who collapsed and died of a heart attack during 
the rite. 

Two weeks before he sailed home to Ireland for his first holiday in 
three years, the authorities assigned him his first exorcism. "You're 
young, Father. I wish you'd had more experience," was the way he 
recalled the bishop's instructions, "but the Old Fella won't have much 
on you or over you. So go to it." 

It had lasted 13 hours ("In Hoboken, of all places," he used to say 
whimsically), and had left him dazed and ill at ease. He never forgot 
the statement of murderous intent hurled at him by the man he had 
exorcised. Through foaming spittle and clenched teeth and the smell 
of a body unwashed for two years prior, the man had snarled: "You 
destroy the Kingdom in me, you shit-faced alien Irish pig. And you 
think you're escaping. Don't worry. You'll be back for more. And 
more. Your kind always come back for more. And we will scorch the 
soul in you. Scorch it. You'll smell. Just like us! Third strike and you're 
out! Pig! Remember us!" Peter remembered. 

But a two-week vacation in County Clare restored him to his energy 
and verve. "God! The scones running with salty butter, and the hot 
tea, and the Limerick bacon, and the soft rain, and the peace of it all! 
'Twas great." 

Most of Peter's wounds were not inflicted by the harsh realities of 
the world around him; but, deep within him, they opened as his way of 
responding to the evil he sometimes sensed in daily life. 

Those who still remembered him in 1972 agreed that Peter had 
been neither genius nor saint. Black-haired, blue-eyed, raw-boned in 


appearance, he was a man of little imagination, deep loyalties, loud 
laughter, gargantuan appetite for bacon and potatoes, an iron 
constitution, an inability to hate or bear a grudge, and in a state of 
constant difference of opinion with his bishop (a tiny old man 
familiarly called "Packy" by his priests). Peter was somewhat lazy, 
harmlessly vain about his 6' z" height, and a lifelong addict of Edgar 
Wallace detective stories, 

"He had this distinct quality," remarked one of his friends. "You felt 
he had a huge spirit laced with cast-iron common sense and untouched 
by any pettiness." 

"If he met the Devil at the top of the stairs one morning and saw 
Jesus Christ standing at the bottom," added another, "he wouldn't 
turn his back on the one in his hurry to get down to the other. He'd 
back down. Just to be sure." 

In normal circumstances, Peter would have stayed on permanently 
in Ireland after his vacation of scones and soft rain. He would have 
worked in parishes for some years, then acquired a parish of his own. 
But there was something else tugging at his heart and something else 
written in his stars. When he left for New York at the outbreak of the 
Korean War in order to replace a chaplain who had been called up, he 
recalled the exorcism in Hoboken. "Third strike and you're out! Pig! 

He remarked jokingly to a worried friend who knew the whole 
story: " Tis not the third time vet!" 

In January 1952, he was asked to do his second exorcism. His 
effectiveness in the first exorcism and the resilient way he had taken it 
recommended him to the authorities. The exorcism took place in 
Jersey City. And, in spite of its length (the better part of three days 
and three nights), it took very little out of him physically or mentally. 
Spiritually, it had some peculiar significance for him. 

"It was a sort of warmer-upper for the 1965 outing," he told me in 
1966. "The ceremony lasted too long for my liking, was hammer and 
tongs all the way, almost beat us. But there was no great strain inside 
here [pointing to his chest]." And he added with a significance that 
eluded me then: "Jesus had a forerunner in the Baptist. I suppose 
darkness has its own." 

Looking back on his role as exorcist today, it is clear to me that the 
first two exorcisms prepared him for the third and last one. They were 
three rounds with the same enemy. 

The exorcee that January was a sixteen-year-old boy of Hispanic 


origin who had been treated for epilepsy over a period of years, only to 
be finally declared nonepileptic and physically sound as a bell by a 
team of doctors from Columbia Presbyterian Hospital. Nevertheless, 
on the boy's return home, all the dreadful disturbances started all over 
again in a much more emphasized way, so the parents turned to their 

"They tell me you've a ... eh ... a sort of a way with the Devil, 
Father," said the wheezy, red-faced monsignor, grinning awkwardly as 
he gave the necessary permissions and instructions to Peter. Then, 
stirring in his chair, he added grimly as a bad Catholic joke: "But don't 
bring him back here to the Chancery with you. Get rid of him or it or 
her or whatever the devil it is. We have enough of all that on our backs 
here already." 

It had gone well. The boy became Peter's devoted friend. Later he 
went to Vietnam and died in an ambush late one night outside Saigon. 
His commanding officer wrote, enclosing an envelope with Peter's 
name on it which the dead man had left behind. It contained a piece 
of bloodstained linen and a short note. Over a decade previously, just 
before his release from possession, in a final paroxysm of revolt and 
appeal, he had clawed at Peter's wrist, and Peter's blood had fallen on 
his shirt sleeve. "I kept this as a sign of my salvation, Father," the note 
said. "Pray for me. I will remember you, when I am with Jesus." 

Peter was then forty-eight years old and in his prime as a priest. Yet 
in himself, he suffered from a growing sense of inadequacy and 
worthlessness. He felt that, in comparison with many of his colleagues 
who had attained degrees, qualifications, high offices, and acknowl- 
edged expertise, he had very little to show by way of achievement. "I 
have no riches inside me," he wrote to a brother of his, "just black 
poverty. Sometimes it darkens my soul." When his turn for a parish of 
his own came around, he was passed over. (Packy was dead already; 
but, some said, the dead bishop had made sure in his records that 
Peter would be passed over.) 

Peter, in fact, was a maverick. The normal priest found him inferior 
in social graces but superior in judgment, lacking in ecclesiastical 
know-how and ambition but very content with his work. Sometimes 
his protestations of being "poor inside," of having "no excellent 
talents" sounded hollow when matched with his stubborn and 
opinionated attitudes. Anyway, the normal bishop would take one look 
into his direct gaze and decide that his own authority was somehow at 
stake. For Peter's stare was not insolent, but yet unwavering; it 


acknowledged the demands of worth but was devoid of any subser- 
vience. It said: "I respect you for what you represent. What you are is 
something else." Such a man was unsettling for the absolutist mind 
and threatening for the authoritarian bent of most ecclesiastics. 

Beyond the occasional funny remark, such as "The higher they go, 
the blacker their bottoms look," Peter gave no outward impression of 
discontent or anxiety. A lack of self-confidence saved him from revolt 
or disgust. And he bore it all lightly. "Well, Father Peter," one bishop 
joshed him as he left to do a three-month stint in London parish work, 
"off you go to hell or to glory, eh?" Peter laughed it off: "In either 
case, bishops get the priority, my lord." 

Had he raised protests and used the influential friends at his 
disposal, he would doubtless have retired in good time to the rural 
repose of a peaceful Kerry parish and the extraordinary autonomy of a 
parish priest. (A pope or a bishop approached any settled "P.P." with 
care. Only his housekeeper could make a frontal assault on a parish 
priest's autonomy. But, then again, Irish housekeepers were a race 
unto themselves.) 

As Peter was and as he chose to remain — in strict dependence on 
ecclesiastical whims and never striking out to seek a fixed position — he 
was available to be tapped for a temporary visit to Rome and an 
accidental meeting that changed him profoundly. 

After his second exorcism, there were ten more years of "helping 
out" in various dioceses, practically always on a temporary basis as 
substitute for other priests. And then a chance breakfast in late 
September 1962 brought him together with a West Coast bishop who, 
on his way to the opening of the Second Vatican Council in Rome, 
stayed a few days in New York. The bishop was well known for his 
sympathy with mavericks and his welcome for "hard cases." Like all 
the bishops who went to the council, he needed one or two experts in 
theology to be his advisors in Rome. He needed, in particular, a 
theologian counselor skilled in pastoral matters. 

The next day Peter was aboard a TWA flight with the bishop 
enroute to the Eternal City. But for that trip, he probably would not 
have been at the side of Marianne three years later. And he certainly 
would never have come close to two men who had a sudden, deep 
influence on the rest of his life. In Rome, Peter performed his duties as 
a counselor during his ten- week stay there. But what mattered much 
more to him personally and affected him deeply were his experiences 
with Father Conor and with Paul VI, then Monsignor Montini. 


Father Conor was a diminutive Irish Franciscan friar, bald-headed, 
sharp-eyed, and voluble, who taught theology at a Roman university. 
He wore rimless glasses, trotted and never walked, and spoke with a 
very strong brogue which made his Latin lectures all but unintelligible. 

He held court for students, professors, foreign visitors, officials, and 
friends in his monastery room after siesta hour, three or four days a 
week. There, any bit of gossip in Rome could be learned, tested, and 
assessed for its rumor value. For half of Rome always feeds on rumors 
about the other half. And speculation is the stick which continually 
stirs the pool of rumor. "They till me, me frind, that . . ." was a 
frequent opening of Conor's conversation. 

Conor spent his summers fishing around Lough Corrib, Ireland, was 
an expert on Waterford glass, and had a lifelong fascination for all 
politics, civil and ecclesiastical, a fascination that made Vatican 
Council II appeal to Conor as catnip to a cat. He had studied 
demonology ("Mostly ballyhoo," he pronounced in his thick brogue), 
witchcraft ("A lotta junk, if y'ask me"), Exorcism ("A mad bizniz"), 
and possession ("The divil's toe-rag"). He served as a consultant to one 
Roman office that dealt with cases of possession; and on 14 occasions 
he had conducted exorcisms (but always protested that he "wouldn't 
touch wan wid a barge pole, unliss they ordherd me teh"). According 
to an in joke about Conor that always made him furious, he induced 
devils to leave the possessed by threatening to "send them back to 

Outside Roman clerical circles, Conor's activity as an exorcist was 
relatively unknown. Indeed, he was regarded by his fellow clergy in 
Ireland as a bookworm and by his lay friends as a "grand, simple, 
innocent man, slightly dotty about the Middle Ages." 

Peter and Conor were approximately the same age. They shared a 
love of Ireland and a passion for Rome's ruins. And Conor sensed in 
Peter a mind never tarnished by the baser ambitions he saw eating into 
those whd gyrated and jockeyed around him in Rome on the political 
treadmill. He also felt Peter's sense of his own worthlessness. 

He found Peter's exorcism experiences enormously interesting. For 
Peter had "the touch," he used to say — a natural ability to weather 
exorcism's storms. On the other hand, Peter found in Conor a friend of 
practical experience and advice. Rambling in the Roman suburbs, 
sitting in the cortile of Conor's monastery, visiting the sights of Rome, 
sipping coffee in the Piazza Navona, they gradually assumed the roles 
of master and disciple. Peter put questions; Conor answered them. He 


explained. He theorized. He instructed. He warned. He corrected. He 

In the area of Exorcism, Conor had things reduced to a recognizable 
pattern of behavior: how the possessed behaved; how the possessing 
spirit acted; and how the exorcist should react and conduct the 
exorcism. During the long walks and talks with Conor, Peter 
crystallized his own first impressions and learned some valuable 

He had never realized the radical distinction between the perfectly 
possessed and the revolters. Nor had he understood the revolters as 
victims of possession who, partly with their own connivance, surely, 
had become hostage and were now trying, on the one hand, to give 
some sign, to summon help, but who in that struggle also became 
victims of a violent protest against such help — a protest made by the 
evil thing that possessed them. 

Peter was able to adjust and correct his techniques immediately, 
even without conducting further exorcisms, once Conor explained that 
the major portion of every exorcism was taken up with shattering a 
pretense, dispelling a smokescreen; that the most dangerous period lay 
in the Breakpoint of that Pretense and in the clash of wills that 
followed at once between the exorcist and the thing that tortured the 
possessed; and that the "Grate Panjandhr'm" (Conor's epithet for the 
Devil) intervened only rarely. 

In Conor's view, the world of evil spirits was like an autocratic 
organization: "Joe Shtaleen used to sind Molotov to do his dirty work. 
So the Grate Panjandhr'm sens his hinchmin." 

Conor taught Peter tricks and ruses; and he gave him tags — phrases, 
words, numbers, concepts — to label perilous phases, capital moments 
and events in an exorcism. He made available to Peter some of his own 
practices: the use of "teaser texts," for instance. At certain awkward 
gaps in the exorcism, there was no way to contend head to head with 
the possessed and with what was possessing them. The possessing 
spirit literally hid behind the identity of the possessed. It had to be 
flushed out into the open. Conor had the habit of reading certain texts 
chosen from the Gospels, until such time as the spirit made mistakes or 
arrogantly threw aside its disguise. 

Conor's advice was always concrete and vivid, and always in Peter's 
mind echoed with that warm, fresh brogue they both shared like a 
piece of common turf: "The t'ing is beyond yer mind. It's a sperrit agin 


yoors. The reel camuflin' starrts inside in yeh. And yeh'r just an ole 
toe-rag, unless Jesus is vvid yeh." 

But, above all else, Conor reconciled Peter to the inevitable drain 
on the exorcist. He explained in simple terms what wounds he could 
receive as an exorcist, what wounds he should avoid, and what wounds 
were incurable once inflicted on him. All these wounds were 
"internal" to spirit and mind and memory and will. Peter had received 
some minor ones already. He now realized what he could undergo. 

Conor refined Peter's primitive idea of "the Devil" and of "Devils," 
expressing in simple terms what to most moderns is an enigma if not 
downright nonsense: how that which has no body can be a person, 
have a personality. And he dealt curtly with psychoanalysts: "Down 
the road a bit, they're goin' to find out that the whole thing is entoirely 
different; and then they'll put Siggy and company up on the shelves as 
histhoric'l lave-overrs, like Galen on bones or Arishtot'l on plants." 

But it was not Conor who rid Peter of his lack of confidence. He 
could never give Peter a reason to trust his own judgment. It was the 
man who in two years would become Paul VI who made that change 
in him. 

Peter never exchanged one sentence with Giovanni Battista Mon- 
tini, then Archbishop of Milan. Montini had been relegated from the 
Vatican to the political wilderness of Milan by Pope Pius XII, had 
survived it, and now was back in Rome — "still listening to his voices" 
(as the Roman wags described the ethereal gaze of Montini and the 
impression he gave of having shutters over his eyes to hide the light 
within) — and was deeply involved in the council. 

One of Montini's theologian-counselors was impressed with Peter's 
arguments at an evening meal. They met several times afterwards 
during Peter's stay. Once they went with Conor to a gathering of 
theologians who were discussing issues being hotly debated on the 
council floor. Such gatherings were frequent in those days; Archbishop 
Montini was the guest of honor at this particular meeting. 

As Montini arrived and walked to his seat, Conor gossiped in a 
whisper with Peter: "They tell me, my frind, that Johnny [then Pope 
John XXIII] won't lasht long." Then with a nod in Montini's direction: 
"There's the nixt wan." 

But Peter was not interested in future popes as such. For an 
inexplicable reason, he was fascinated by Montini. Everything about 
the man, his person, and his speech and his writings had a peculiar 


significance for Peter. As he remarked to Conor, ''He seems to walk 
with a great vision no one else sees." 

He set out to learn all he could about Montini, speaking with those 
who knew the archbishop, reading his sermons, frequenting Montini's 
familiars and employees. He even got to the stage of referring to 
Montini as Zio, a name used affectionately by those around the 

Peter came to share Conor's trenchant point of view on recent 
popes: "Pacelli [Pius XII] was loike a shliver of ice serrved up in an 
archangel's cocktail at the hivinly banquit," confided Conor wryly as 
they walked home one evening. "Awsteerr, arishtocratic, sometimes 
wid a dead-an'-dug-up look, y'know. Johnny [John XXIII], av coorse, is 
out on his own, a mountin uv sperrit. But this lil' fella [Montini] has an 
airr V thragedee." 

Peter made a point of going to listen to Montini whenever he was 
billed to speak in public. It was on one of these occasions that he had 
his "Montini experience." Together with others present, he knelt to 
receive the archbishop's blessing at the end of his speech. As Montini 
raised his right hand to make the sign of the cross, Peter lifted his eyes. 
They locked with Montini's at the juncture point of the cross the 
archbishop traced in the air. As he looked, the "shutters" over 
Montini's eyes opened for an instant. Montini's gaze was momentarily 
an almost dazzling brilliance of feeling warmth, communication. Then 
the "shutters" closed again, as Montini's eyes traveled on over the 
heads of the others kneeling around Peter. 

Afterwards, Peter knew that the empty feeling of diffidence had left 
him. For the first time in his life, he had no fears. 

That was in mid-November of 1962. At the beginning of December, 
as the first session of the council ended, he was told that he had been 
freed from his obligations back in New York and that he could go 
home to Ireland for Christmas. After Christmas vacation in his home 
town, he worked in Ireland from January 1963 until August 1965. 

He was winding up his summer vacation in July 1965 and preparing 
to return to work in Kerry, when he received a short note from New 
York telling him of Marianne K., a young woman, apparently a 
genuine case of possession. The note was urgent: the authorities felt he 
could best handle the affair. Could he come over immediately? 

In mid-August he arrived in New York. 



Toward the spring of 1964, and thousands of miles away from the calm 
and fresh Kerry countryside where Peter was then living, the habitues 
of Bryant Park, in New York City, began to notice a skinny young 
woman of medium height wearing jeans, sandals, and a blouse, with a 
raincoat thrown over her shoulders. Her visits there were irregular; 
and she stayed for unpredictable periods of time, sometimes for hours, 
sometimes for ten or fifteen minutes, once for two days. The weather 
had nothing to do with the length of her stay; sunshine, rain, snow, 
cold made no difference. She looked clean; but those she passed got 
the rancid odor of unwashed hair and skin. She never spoke to anyone, 
and never stood or sat in exactly the same place twice. Always she had 
a fixed expression, a kind of frozen smile that was only on her mouth; 
her eyes were blank, her cheeks unlined, taut; her teeth were never 
visible through the fixed and smiling lips. Her blonde hair was usually 
unkempt. Those who frequently saw her nicknamed her the Smiler. 
Marianne K. 

Her behavior was harmless, though erratic, at first. Some days she 
came, sat or stood without any motion to speak of. Then she departed 
suddenly as if on a signal. Other days, she arrived, gazed blankly 
around at every corner, then left precipitately. At other times she 
brought little wooden sticks which she ceremoniously stood upright in 
the earth, tying scraps of cloth with a single bow to their base. "Like 
little crosses upside down," was a description given later. 

Only once in that early time did she cause any commotion. She 
came to Bryant Park one morning, sat down for a while, then stood up 
stock-still facing south, with what could have been taken as a beatific 
gleam in her eyes. Someone passed by carrying a radio blaring music. 
As the radio came level with her, suddenly she flung her hands to her 
ears, screamed, spun around like a top, and fell hard on her face, her 
body twitching. A score of people gathered around her. A policeman 
strolled over with the unspeed of the New York cop. "Turn that thing 
off, pal," he said to the owner of the radio. 

Almost immediately a tall man was by the policeman's side. "She's 
Marianne. I will take care of her." He spoke in a voice of authority and 
very clearly. 

"Are you a relative?" the policeman asked, looking up as he 
crouched on his haunches beside Marianne. 


"I'm the only one she has in this world." The policeman remem- 
bered the man touched Marianne on the left wrist and spoke quietly. 
In a few seconds she awoke, and got quickly but unsteadily to her feet. 
Her face still had the smile. Together, she and the tall man walked 
slowly away towards Fifth Avenue. 

"You needn't report it, Officer." 

The policeman heard the words said evenly, confidently, over the 
man's shoulder. "I was sure they were father and daughter," he 
commented later in recalling the incident. "He looked old enough; and 
they both smiled in exactly the same way." 

Nothing of a recorded public nature took place again in Marianne's 
case, even though she was already in a state of possession by an evil 

No definite sign of that possession, unequivocal in itself, had been 
visible in her from her childhood days until well into the year 
following the incident in Bryant Park. 

Marianne grew up with one brother a year younger than she. They 
spent their first years in Philadelphia. The family was then of lower 
middle income. It was strongly Roman Catholic and closely knit. Her 
parents, both of Polish origin and second-generation American, had no 
living relatives in the United States. Close friends were few. Neither of 
them had completed high school; and they had never found time for 
culture or much leisure for the finer things in life. Her mother was a 
quiet-spoken, firm woman who held a job and continually worried 
about bills. Her father was a bluff, down-to-earth character who grew 
up in the Depression, married late, was solidly faithful to his wife, 
never fretted about difficulties, and, outside his working hours, spent 
all his spare time at home. 

Discipline was not rigid at home, and a good deal of fun and 
merriment ran through it all. Both children were reared to lead an 
orderly existence. Religion occupied a prominent place in their lives. 
Prayers in common were recited mornings and evenings. Family love 
and loyalty were based on religious belief. The Polish pastor was the 
ultimate authority. 

In those early years there was such a strong resemblance between 
Marianne and George, her younger brother, that they were often 
mistaken for twins. When their mother or father called them, either of 
them could answer by mimicking perfectly the voice of the other. 
They had special signs and words of their own, a kind of private 


language they could use. Marianne relied on George to a great extent. 
She was left-handed, had begun to speak normally only at the age of 
six, and was very shy and obstinate. 

This close companionship between the two children was broken 
when, around Marianne's eighth birthday, the family moved to New 
York, where her father had been reassigned by his company. His new 
position made the family financially secure and comfortable. Mari- 
anne's mother no longer worked at a job outside the home. Her 
brother was successful in school. He made friends easily, was a good 
athlete, and had a rollicking disposition. In New York he gradually 
sought the company of his peers, and so spent less and less time with 
his sister. 

Marianne made few friends and was at ease only when at home. She 
never seemed to prefer one parent over the other. After finishing high 
school, she spent two years at Manhattanville College, where her 
academic interests were physics and philosophy. But her stay there 
was stormy and unhappy. She wanted the "full truth, to know it all," 
she told her teachers in the first flush of enthusiasm. But with time she 
seemed to get cynical and disillusioned, and gave the impression she 
believed they were evading the real problem and hiding the full truth 
from her. 

She found particular difficulty with her metaphysics teacher, a 
certain Mother Virgilius, middle-aged, myopic, high-voiced, exigent, a 
disciplinarian and member of the "old school." Mother Virgilius taught 
Scholastic philosophy. She derided modern philosophers and their 
theories. Her arguments with Marianne were, from the start, bitter 
and inconclusive. The girl kept plying the older woman with 
questions, perpetually throwing doubt on any statement Mother 
Virgilius made, driving her back step by step until the nun rested 
desperately on her own basic ideas she had accepted but had never 
questioned. And Marianne was too clever and too tenacious for her, 
leaping nimbly from objection to objection and strewing difficulties 
and remarks to trip her up. 

But clearly what Marianne was after seemed to be a trap of an odd 
kind in which to catch the nun. There didn't seem to be any desire on 
her part to find out something true or to deepen her knowledge, only a 
disturbing viciousness, a stony-faced cunning with words and argu- 
ments alternating with a sardonic silence and smirking satisfaction, all 
leading to confusion and curiously bitter derision. 


Virgilius sensed this but could not identify it. She merely stood on 
her dignity. But this was no help to either of them. 

It all came to a head one afternoon. The lecture concerned the 
principle of contradiction. "If something exists, if something is, then it 
cannot but exist. It cannot not be at the same time and under the same 
respect,'' concluded Mother Virgilius in her high pitch. "The table is 
here. While it is here, it cannot not be here. Being and nonbeing 
cannot be identified." 

As she finished, Marianne's hand shot up. "Why can't they be 

They had been over this ground interminably. The nun had no more 
answers and no more patience. "Marianne, we will discuss this later." 

"You say that because you cannot prove it. You just presume it." 

"First principles cannot be proven. They ..." 

"Why can't I have another first principle? Say: being and nonbeing 
are inseparable. The table is here because it isn't here. God exists 
because he doesn't exist at the same time." 

A titter ran around the class. 

Marianne rounded on her classmates: "It's no joke! We exist and we 
don't exist!" 

The general amusement gave way to hostility and embarrassment. 
None in the room, Virgilius included, realized, as Marianne reflects 
today, that by some kink of inner impulse, her mind was running in 
little twisted gorges of confusion. She was guided by no clear ideas, 
was not commenting from a rich store of reflection and experience, but 
was only pulled by a peculiar fascination with the negative. Many a 
greater mind had fallen off a dark cliff somewhere along this same way 
or impaled itself in desperation on some sharp rocks. 

Virgilius, feeling already tired, was humiliated. She got angry. "I 
told you, Miss, we will speak . . ." 

But before she had finished the sentence, Marianne was on her feet, 
had swept up her books, glared at everyone, and was out the door. 

Marianne refused to return to Manhattanville. To all questions as to 
why and to all entreaties that she give it another chance, she kept 
repeating: "They are trying to enslave my mind. I want to be free, to 
know all reality, to be real." She had nothing but contempt for her 
former teachers. But none of them could guess how far she had already 
gone in this contempt. 

As she traces it now, her new path began when she decided that her 


teachers — Mother Virgilius among them — were phonies, that they 
merely repeated what they had been taught. There was nothing 
abnormal in this. Up to a certain level, Marianne had an emotional 
reaction rather normal in the adolescent. But she pursued it with a 
logic that was not normal for her years. And she was deliberately 
isolated: she did not communicate with her companions, nor did she 
discuss it with her parents. She was determined to work it out for 

Gradually she extended the same premise ("All authorities in my life 
are phonies, because they repeat what they are told and never 
inquire") to her parents, to the priests at the local church, to the 
religious teaching she had been given, and to the habits and customs of 
daily life. To everything. 

Her parents knew nothing of philosophy. And when Marianne spoke 
darkly of "how good it is to see all the 'noes' side by side with the 
'yesses' " or of "dirt on the nose of the Venus de Milo" or of "murder 
as an act of beauty as real as composing a sonata," they were 
bewildered. They only knew that they loved her; but manifestations of 
that love were taken by Marianne as chains thrown around her. "If 
only you could hate me, Mummy, just for five minutes, we would get 
along so well," she said once to her mother. At another time: "Why 
doesn't Daddy rape me or break my nose with his fist? Then I would 
see my beauty. And he would be real for me." 

In the end, after much discussion and consultation, it was decided to 
send Marianne to Hunter College for the fall semester of 1954. 
Perhaps a purely secular school with good standards would satisfy 
what her parents could only take on the surface to be Marianne's urge 
to acquire knowledge. 

Academically Marianne never had any difficulty during her three 
years at Hunter, But the rhythm of family life changed around this 
time. And she took a totally unexpected turn in character. George, her 
brother, had gone away the previous year to study oceanography. He 
had been the one human being with whom she communicated on an 
intimate basis. Her father was more frequently than ever out of town 
traveling for his company. Her mother, who had taken up working 
again in an advertising agency, lost any real contact with Marianne by 
the end of her first year at Hunter. 

Her contemporaries at the college remember her as a rather plump, 
grave-faced girl who rarely laughed, did not smile easily, spoke in a 
low voice, had few friends, never dated boys, gave the impression of 


great stubbornness whenever an argument arose, and (as far as they 
were concerned) was a "homebody.'' But neither they nor her family 
knew anything about her first meeting with the Man. 

During her first two years at college, Marianne used to go 
downtown and sit in Washington Square Park, reading her textbooks 
and making notes. One afternoon in 1956, as she was reading William 
James' Varieties of Religions Experience, she felt suddenly, but 
without any sense of shock, that someone was bending over her 
shoulder and looking at the pages of her book. She looked around. He 
was a rather tall individual whose face and clothes never impressed 
themselves on her memory. His left hand was resting on the back of 
the park bench. Her one clear memory is only of his mouth and the 
regular teeth she glimpsed behind his lips as he read repeatedly from 
the open page of her book the words: "When you find a man living on 
the ragged edge of his consciousness . . ." running all the words as 
one sentence several times over and over again without pause or stop. 
The mouth kept repeating and repeating: ". . . on the ragged edge of 
consciousness on the ragged edge of consciousness on the ragged edge 
of consciousness on the . . ." It was done softly. Without hurry. 
Without emphasis. Until the words became a slowly whirling carousel 
in her ears, and her mind moved in circles, bumping against them on 
all sides. She burst into tears. 

The mouth said, still softly: "They are all pushing you along the 
ragged edge. W 7 ant to get off it?" 

She remembers a few things. She said through her tears: "I don't 
want them to help me. Just to leave me alone." 

He sat with her for about one hour. The left hand remained visible 
in her memory. And the mouth. She remembers nothing else of him, 
except that there were instructions: "Don't let any man touch you! 
You have a short time to reach your true self! Come and find me 
regularly!" And there was one peculiar instruction: "Seek those of the 
Kingdom. They will know you. You will know them." 

It was from this time that her family and acquaintances noticed 
definite changes in Marianne. She disappeared from home for long 
mornings and afternoons, even when there were no lectures or lab 
work at college. She spoke rarely with her parents. Her meals at home 
grew less frequent. Her contemporaries at Hunter noticed that she 
became more introspective, more fearful of strangers, more reticent 
with those who knew her, and extremely shy. 

Her mother became worried. After much persuasion, she induced 


Marianne to see a psychiatrist. But after a couple of sessions, he 
dismissed her; he told her parents that, while she certainly needed 
more nourishment (she had been losing weight) and much love, he 
could detect nothing awry or dangerous in her psychology. She just 
wanted to be free; and this was, he said, the new generation. Anyway, 
he advised them, they should think of her age: rebellion and 
independence were normal for her age bracket. 

Her father was satisfied. But her mother felt some deep apprehen- 

"By the time they realized that I was in earnest about the change in 
me," says Marianne, "I had already accepted the authority of the Man 
in my life. I had changed profoundly. I mean: my inner life-style 
altered under his influence." 

Marianne always refers to this figure as "the Man"; but nowadays it 
is impossible for her to determine if he was hallucination, deliberate 
figment of her own, a real person, or merely a metaphor and symbol of 
her initial revolt. Indeed, in Marianne's memory of the nine years 
between that first meeting with the Man and the exorcism of 1965, the 
Man keeps on appearing and reappearing in her recollections. But 
most of the time, especially the last four years, is nearly a total blank. 
Only a few searing experiences stand out starkly for her. 

Having finished at Hunter, Marianne decided to follow postgraduate 
courses in physics at New York University. Her isolation now became 
complete. After a little over one year at New York University, she 
dropped out, took an apartment in the East Village, and started 
working as a sales clerk in a store on Union Square. Her behavior, 
according to the conservative Catholic standards of her parents, was 
unorthodox. Marianne never went to church any longer. She lived 
sporadically with various men, did not take care of her external 
appearance, and spoke disparagingly — sometimes very rudely and 
with four-letter words — of all that her parents held dear. She did not 
allow them to bother her. 

For their part, her parents worried greatly; but, following the 
hopeful lead of the psychiatrist, they still thought that all this was a 
temporary phase of rebellion. They did worry in particular about her 
health: she shrank from 130 pounds to 95 pounds in a matter of 
months. But, in great anguish and confusion, her mother ceased 
leaving food packages at the door of Marianne's apartment, when the 
first one was delivered back smelling and dripping. Marianne had 
mixed excrement and urine with the fruit and sandwiches. 


In her memory now, the next big step in her ehanging "inner 
life-style," as she terms it, concerned formal religion and religious 
belief. She took that step consciously, with the Man by her side, and 
on two particular occasions. 

One occasion was on Palm Sunday. In the evening as she passed by 
a church, services were being conducted. Something about the lights 
in this particular church aroused her interest — "It was in the nature of 
a challenge," she recalls. She entered and stood among the people at 
the back of the church. Suddenly she felt the same disgust and 
rejection then as she had experienced toward her parents and 
teachers. As she turned to go, the Man beside her turned also. He had 
been there but she hadn't noticed him. 

"Had enough, my friend?" he said quietly, jocularly. 

She saw his smile in the half-darkness, and smiled back at him. He 
said: "The smile of the Kingdom is now yours." Then, as they left: "If 
you don't like it, you haven't got to lump it, y'know." They both 
smiled. That was all. 

The second occasion took place the next week, at Easter. An 
illuminated cross was set up on the General Building on Park Avenue. 
She was viewing this from the corner of 56th Street and Park Avenue, 
when she heard the Man nearby say: "Seems one-sided. Shouldn't they 
turn it upside down also? Just in order to balance the odds? Same 
thing, really. Only in perfect balance." The Man smiled. 

"For me," comments Marianne now, "it was a perfect smile. You 
hadn't to balance it up with a scowl. Perfect for me then." 

At home that night, she found herself drawing inverted crosses side 
by side with upright crosses. But she could not bring herself to draw 
the crucified figure on either type of cross. Whenever she tried, "The 
pencil ran away into S-shapes and Z-shapes and X-shapes." From that 
time on, there started in earnest what she recalls as a "new color and 
form in my inner life-style." Her descriptions of it are confused and 
marked by expressions that one finds difficult to understand. But the 
overall meaning of what she says is chilling. The whole process was an 
acquisition of the "naked light" and her "marriage with nothingness," 
expressions she learned from the Man. 

"I began to live exactly according to my belief. I mean, inside 
myself, my thoughts, feelings, memories, and all mental activity moved 
accordingly. I reacted to all things — people and things and happen- 
ings — as if they were one side of the real coin. And I rapidly found 
that all people have a powerful force in them — as humans. People, 


things, events, challenge us to respond. The way we respond gives the 
things we respond to a special quality. In a sense, we make them what 
they turn out to be for us. 

' 'Let me give you an example that will also tell you to what an 
extent I pursued my idea. Once outside the Public Library on 42nd 
Street, on a sunny afternoon, a well-dressed woman passed by on the 
arm of a man. I was sitting on the steps, and she smiled at me. I found 
myself smiling back at them and saying by my smile (because I felt like 
that inside me): 'You like me. I like you. You hate me. I hate you. See! 
It is all the same!' She must have realized the same things, because the 
smile sort of froze on her face; but she went on smiling — as I did. 

''Another day, I picked up a young man on Third Avenue. We went 
to his apartment and had intercourse. He was gentle; but when I was 
finished with him, he was a very frightened being. I guess I showed 
him a side of his character he never guessed existed. And I could see 
by his face that he was scared. I insisted he make coffee. Drinking it 
while still naked, I told him how much I hated him and how much he 
hated me really, and that the more he loved me and I, him, the more 
we hated each other. I can still see the blood draining from his face 
and the fear in the whites of his eyes. He was obviously afraid of some 
trouble. When he mumbled something about Tlyde' and 'Jekyll,' I 
said: 'Oh no, man! Put the two in one with no switching back and 
forth, and you have it down pat. Jekyll-Hyde. That's perfect. See?" 

From now on, as she remembers it, Marianne's development went in 
two quick stages. The first stage was very rapid. It consisted of a total 
independence. Except insofar as she needed them for survival or 
pleasure, she no longer bothered about anyone or anything. She had no 
more decisions to make about being morally good or evil; whether life 
was good or bad, worth quitting or worth continuing; whether she 
liked or disliked; whether she was liked or disliked; whether she met 
her obligations or shirked them. 

The second stage was more difficult and went by fits and starts. It 
began with a near-adoration of herself. It ended in her "marriage with 
nothingness" and the fullness of the "naked light." It became clear 
during her exorcism a few years later that these were terms that 
described her total subjection to an evil spirit. 

She came to monitor her perceptions closely and scrupulously. At 
first she was fascinated by her perceptions; they came with a startling 
freshness, appearing to be utterly original in their source — her self. 
She became in her own eyes a genius with a single vision. She found 


the company of others exasperating and destructive. To talk with 
another softened the sharp edge of her perception; to do anything with 
another meant clothing herself in false clothes and not being wholly 
herself; to feel anything with anyone else meant she would feel only 
relatively, for she had to take account of them. Ideally, she believed, 
one should feel absolutely whatever one felt; whatever one thought 
one should think completely; whatever one desired one should desire 
totally. No concentration on self could be greater. 

Before she achieved absolute isolation, whenever she returned from 
a conversation or a meal with others, or even after listening to a 
lecture or working in the laboratory, it was very difficult for her to 
regain "the inner space and the single vision" she had possessed before 
such contacts. She was left with a "double vision"; she was blurred, 
confused, and confusing in herself. She had to spend days "doing her 
own thing" — walking in the park (this she now did almost every day), 
sitting in her apartment writing page after page, which she immedi- 
ately tore up and which she never reread; sitting or standing still for 
hours — until at last she was fully absorbed in the self that had been 
hiding. Then quite suddenly all the clamor would fade out. In the 
presence of that inner self all was naked again. And absolute. And 
secure. No longer was she interrupted or disrupted by the "bad flow" 
from others. 

As she reached more and more permanent mastery of her isolation, 
she came to realize that the self she sought lay "beyond" and 
"beneath" and "behind" (to use her own expressions) the world of her 
psychophysical actions and reactions. Out of reach of the endless 
rhythm of responses, of recordings on her memory, of the fast-paced 
hip chatter of her companions, of blaring monologues by individuals. 
She became slowly more sensitive and expectant that she would find 
the self she sought, wrapped in semitransparent shadows. It was 
independent, she believed, of that distracting outer world, and of her 
inner psychic theater which was always at the mercy of that outer 
world and was so easily shattered by it. The restlessness of details had 
no place with the self. She came to believe that, if she could prevent 
the "bad flow" of others entering, she could achieve "perfection of 

"One of my big realizations was that in any commerce with 
others — a conversation, working with them, even being in their 
presence while they talked and acted with others — there were two 
levels of 'flow,' of communication." 


One, the * 'outer one," was — as Marianne perceived it — the one with 
which she heard, saw, touched, tasted, smelled, remembered in 
images, conceptualized, and verbalized. All of its functions could be 
duplicated by a skillfully built machine, a computer, for instance. A lot 
of it could be found in highly intelligent animals. But in human beings 
you couldn't have this "outer" level of communication without the 
second level. 

The second level of communication was, Marianne believed, a 
"flow" or "influence" from each person to another. And whenever two 
human beings communicated, they did so on both levels simultane- 
ously. And they did so even if they didn't know it or wouldn't admit it. 

Marianne had very definite ideas on the source of that second level 
of communication. Her academic training and her avid reading had 
given a very sophisticated edge to her viewpoint: 

"The source was not the subconscious, not a sixth sense or telepathy 
or any of those gimmicky tags," as she puts it. The source, she thought, 
was the self in each one. She said: "The self has a means of 
communication which does not need images or thoughts or logic or 
any particle of matter." Psychologists and physiologists, she knew, 
identified the self with brain circuitry and synaptic joints and the 
mechanisms of sensation. This was like saying that the violin was the 
source of the violinists music. Religionists and spiritualists identified 
the self with "soul" or "spirit" — even with God, or a god. And both 
psychologists and religionists insisted you make choices. And so, in 
most people, that source and its "flow" were split into a kind of 
"black-and-white" condition. Most people were always choosing, 
responding, being responsible for their actions, saying yes or no, and 
thereby "fissioning the self's lively unity." 

Rarely did Marianne meet anyone whose "flow" entered and left 
her without attempting to split up the self she had found within her. 
She remembers that the Man's "flow" was absolutely right, that he 
even helped her to reach "the place of semitransparent shadows." At 
other times, in the subway, on the streets, at shop windows, she would 
receive helpful influence from passersby. But she never managed to 
find precisely from whom it came. Her daily life became a series of 
efforts to resist the "flow" from all but those who, like her ideal, had 
the "perfect flow" and the "perfect balance," who had "nothingness 
within them." 

She has vague memories of continuing to be instructed by the Man, 
of seeing him regularly, of listening to him talk, of obeying some 


dictates he gave. Bat one can glean nothing precise or detailed from 
Marianne about her instructions. Even an effort by her today to 
recollect such instructions of the Man produces sudden panics and 
fears that temporarily paralyze her mind. It is as if, today, remnants of 
the Man's influence cling somewhere in the deep recesses of her inner 
being, and any effort to recall those days of her possession is like 
peeling the scab off a healing wound. 

The end of her striving came one day in Bryant Park. She had 
entered cautiously, feeling the "flow" of all present, ready to flee if any 
disturbance came her way. He was sitting languidly on a bench doing 
nothing in particular, staring vacantly into space. 

Sitting down at the other end of the bench, Marianne gazed 
vacantly on the passing scene. In the morning sunlight, beneath a sky 
cleansed by a light breeze, the traffic hummed with the busy 
purposefulness of other human beings about their day's work. School 
children and office workers passed by on their different ways. The 
pigeons were feeding. It could not have been a more peaceful city 

Then, in a quick instant, some tremendous pressure seemed to fall 
all around Marianne from head to toe like a net. She shivered. And 
then some invisible hand seemed to have pulled a tightening cord, so 
that the net slipped through every inch of her body and outer self, 
tightening and tightening. "As the net contracted in size passing 
through my outer person, it gathered and compressed every particle of 
my self." 

Marianne no longer saw or felt any sensation of sunlight or wind. 
The outer world had become a flat and painted picture neither fresh 
nor hot nor cold. And the movements of people and animals and 
objects were angular tracings with no depth and no coherent sound. 
All meaning was drained from the scene. 

The only movement was within her. Bit by bit "the net, now like a 
sharp, all- surrounding hand, tightened, narrowing and narrowing all 
my consciousness." At every moment, under that pressure, she was 
"opening up every secret part of my self, saying, 'Yes,' 'Yes,' 'Yes,' to a 
power that would not take 'No' for an answer." 

And none who saw her, a young girl sprawled motionless on the 
bench in the sunlight, could guess that Marianne was becoming a 
casement of possession. 

Without any warning the pressure ceased. The net had been drawn 
tight. She was held invincibly, securely. And then she realized, like 


waking up from sleep, that some kind of mist or fog was lifting from 
her consciousness, allowing her a new sensation. She now knew that all 
along — all her life — she had been very near to "dusk, an accom- 
panying darkness." Even as she once more saw the grass, trees, men, 
women, children, animals, sun, sky, buildings, with their indifference 
and innocence in her regard, she saw also this dusk everywhere. 

The dusk crept into her, like a snake slithering easily and lazily into 
a favorite hole, bringing with it twilight rustlings of such "smoky 
transparencies," such "opaque light," and such "brightest shadows" 
that a thrill ripped through her whole being. 

What entered her seemed to be "personal," to have an individual 
identity but of such seductive repulsiveness that the thrill she felt 
stung her with a "pain-pleasure" she had never dreamed possible. She 
felt her "whole being going quiet, self- aware, dissolving all the 
cobwebs." It was like falling in love with the open jaws of an alligator. 
Each splotch of its saliva, each hook of its teeth, each crevasse in its 
mouth "was animal, just animal, and personal." 

All the while she kept on repeating "yes" silently as if answering a 
request for marriage or a demand for surrender. Time seemed to stand 
still, "as a bestiary of animal sounds and smells and presences" 
gradually flowed into her consciousness and mingled there with the 
sounds of children laughing, the tones of workmen nearby calling out 
jokes, or snatches of conversation from couples passing along the 
pathway. All the sounds that had enlivened the morning when she had 
entered Bryant Park now seeped with "a new odor of old and new 
corrupting things, of cor nipt ion." The cool snap of the air and the 
sound of the traffic were marinated in a fluid of "grunts, snarls, hisses, 
bello wings, helpless bleatings." The blue of the sky, the shining faces 
of the skyscrapers, the green of the grass, all the colors around her 
were, according to her memory, suffused in wreaths of black, browns, 

It was the "balance" she had always sought. "I have finally stepped 
into the locus of my self," she reflected. It had always been there, of 
course. This was the wonder and the awe of it all. And the core of that 
wonder was "finding it to be nowhere, in a room with an empty chair 
that did not exist, bare walls that faded into nothingness," and she 
herself "at last seen as a final illusion dissipated and annihilated into 
nothingful oneness." 

She stood up to go, overjoyed with her newfound "thrill of balance." 
But she was whiplashed back to clamorous and unwanted sense by 


music from a portable radio on the arm of a passerby. The snake 
resting inside her had suddenly coiled like a whip cord and was lashing 
out at the attempted entry of any singular beauty or grace. She felt 
herself falling and whirling, falling and whirling. It was as if inside her 
head a little flywheel had broken loose and was whipping itself into a 
high-pitched scream as it sped faster and faster. The ground came up 
and hit her across the forehead. But the real suffering was deep inside 
her. "Never did I know such sadness and pain," she said. 

"When I walked away with the Man's help, he said little. His words 
burned themselves into my memory: 'Don't fear. You have now 
married nothingness and are of the Kingdom.' I understood it all 
without understanding anything at all with my intellect or reason. I 
said, 'Yes! Yes! All of me belongs now.' 

"Nothing was ever the same again, until after I was exorcised." 

It was not so much what Marianne had learned. It was rather what 
she had become. "I was not another person. I was the same. Only I 
was convinced I had become free by being totally independent and by 
what had entered me and taken up residence inside me." 

Just to confirm herself in her conviction, "at one point about twelve 
months before the exorcism, I did go to a psychiatrist — really to find 
out how far I had traveled from the ordinary idea of being normal. As 
he spoke, I realized that all he said, the terminology and concepts he 
used, and the theories he relied on were such claptrap, all this was 
only halfway house to where I had arrived. He was treating me as if I 
were a sick human animal — concentrating on the animal part of me. 
But he did not know anything about spirit; and so I knew then he 
could not understand the spirit part of me, could not understand me. 
He smothered me in words and methods. Even tried some amateur 
hypnotic business. He finished up talking more about himself than me. 

"A second psychiatrist told me I needed to travel, to get away from 
it all — but this was at the end of a long session. Again, in this case, I 
found that nothing the therapist, a woman this time, nothing she did 
by way of accepted psychoanalytic methods (discussions, monologues 
on a couch, hypnosis, pharmacology, etc.) ever reached beyond the 
shallow level of my psychic acts and consciousness. I always saw the 
therapist as if she were stalking around me fascinated by images and 
surfaces and terminology; and I saw my psychic self, this partial, puny 
mechanism in me, responding to her. All along, the real me, my very 
self which doesn't deal in images or words at all, was untouched. Its 


area was never entered by the therapist. No psychiatrist could fit in 
through the doorway because of the load of images and emotions and 
concepts he carried about with him. Only the naked I enters and lives 

From now on, as far as any outside observer could have assessed, 
Marianne's course was a deterioration. After the "marriage with 
nothingness" in Bryant Park, some fixed moorings seemed to have 
been severed. 

She encouraged all forms of sexual intercourse with men and 
women, but never found anyone willing "to go the whole hog." 
Lesbians generally stayed at the surface, wishing to generate pleasure 
and satisfaction without the necessity of a male. Men with whom she 
had anal intercourse suddenly became appalled, and usually impotent, 
when she proceeded to act out anal intercourse "to its fullest extent," 
as she said. In her view, they wanted merely a novel experience but 
were quite unwilling "to achieve complete bestiality." They could 
only take "a little of the beast." They missed "the deliciousness of 
beauty bestialized and of beast beautified." 

The few neighborhood people who saw her with any frequency 
began to think she was peculiar. She rarely spoke. In shops she would 
point to what she wanted to buy or hand it to the shopkeeper with a 
grunt. She never looked them in the eye. All had a vague feeling of 
threat or danger, some indefinable sense of an unknown fire in her, as 
long as she stood near them. 

Her parents tried to see her several times, but could speak to her 
only through the locked door of her apartment. Her language to them 
was littered with obscenities. 

Once the neighbors heard dull thuds and crashes for four to five 
hours. Finally overcoming the reluctance of East Village apartment 
dwellers to interfere with anyone, they called the police. The door had 
to be forced. The smell in the room was stomach-curdling. And they 
could not understand the freezing temperature, while outside New 
York sweltered in the fetid humidity of high summer. 

The room was in chaos. On the floor around the bed and table, in 
the closets, bathroom, and kitchenette, there were thousands of torn 
sheets of paper covered with indecipherable scrawls. Marianne was 
lying across the bed, one leg bent beneath her, a little blood dropping 
from the corner of her mouth, her eyes open and sightless. She was 
breathing regularly. 

An ambulance called by someone arrived just when Marianne 


stirred and sat up. She took in the scene in one glance. Quickly her 
face changed; she spoke in a normal voice, and assured them that all 
was well. She had fallen, she said, from a chair while fixing the 
curtains. ''Police don't want trouble," she comments in recalling 
the incident. "And anyway, I radiated too much power and self- 
confidence. The only thing I wanted to do was to shout obscenities in 
their faces: 'You missed it all! I've just been fucked by a big-bellied 
spider.' But there was no point in saying that." They left her alone. 

During all this time, Marianne always smelled bad, and she seemed 
to have constant cuts and bruises on her shins and the back of her 
hands. She never displayed any emotion except when confronted with 
a crucifix, or someone making the sign of the cross, the sound of 
church bells, the smell of incense from a church door, the sight of a 
nun or a priest, or the mention of the name of Jesus (even when 
spoken as an oath or used in jest). Her brother, George, who later went 
around her familiar haunts, was told by many that at such moments 
she seemed to shrink inside herself like somebody under a rain of 
blows, and through the gap in her dreadful, constant smile they would 
hear growled gurgles of resentment. 

Violence to others was rare. On one occasion a schoolgirl with a 
collection box for a local church cause, shook the box in her face 
asking for a contribution. Marianne screamed through her teeth, fell 
into a paroxysm of weeping, shielding her eyes with her hands and 
kicking violently at the girl's shins. On the front of the box, she still 
recalls, there was a crucified figure together with the name of Jesus. 

On the other hand, she repelled threatening violence rather easily. 
In the dusk of one October evening, at the corner of Leroy Street, she 
was accosted by a mugger. She remembers clearly that he made his 
first move at her from behind. She turned her face deliberately to him, 
displaying the full extent of that twisted smile to him: "Yes, my 
brother?" He stopped as if he had run up against an invisible brick 
wall and stood staring; he seemed unexpectedly and painfully bruised. 
Then with a scared glance, he backed away from her and took to his 

About May 1965 things were brought to a head. Marianne's brother 
returned to New York for an extended visit. George was married by 
now and the father of two children. Visits back home were not easy to 
arrange. Their mother had kept him informed by letter of the rift 


between Marianne and her parents. But she had given no idea of the 
extent to which Marianne had changed. 

Now he heard the full story. He talked with Marianne's most recent 
employers and the few people who came into contact with her — her 
landlord, the grocer, and a few others. He even went to the local 
police precinct. The news was bad right through. No one had a good 
word to say for his sister. George could not bring himself to believe the 
stories about the little Marianne he had been so close to. Some spoke 
disparagingly of her in a way that hurt him deeply. Others manifested 
a great fear and apprehension about her. One police sergeant went 
very far: "If I didn't know otherwise, son, I would say you're a bloody 
liar and not the brother of that one. This gal is bad, bad, bad news. 
And, besides, there's something mucky about her. Doesn't even look 
like a fine lad like you.'' 

George finally decided to go and see his sister for himself. Their 
mother sat him down in the kitchen before he went. George recalls 
now that she warned him "what ails our baby is something bad, 
something real bad. It's not the body. And it's not her mind. She's gone 
away with evil. That's it. Evil." 

George took most of this and much more of the same with a grain of 
salt: it was his superstitious and beloved mother speaking about her 
little baby. She gave him a crucifix and told him to leave it hidden in 
Marianne's room. She said: "You'll see, son. She won't stand for it. 
You'll see." To humor her, George took the crucifix, put it in his 
pocket, promptly forgot about it, and went downtown to see 

It was the first time George and Marianne had met in about eight 
years. And he was also the first of her immediate family she had 
consented to see in about six years. Marianne was visibly delighted to 
see him in her one-room apartment. But George, sitting and listening 
to her talking slowly in a soft, staccato voice, knew immediately that 
something was indeed wrong with his sister, that some very deep 
change had taken place in her. 

She was still recognizable to him as his sister — the mannerisms he 
had known in their earlier years were visibly there. And she still had 
the "family face" which he shared with her. But, as George told it, she 
seemed "to have seen something which constantly filled her mind even 
while talking to me. She was speaking for the benefit of somebody 
else's ear, repeating what somebody else was telling her." He had a 


funny feeling that made him look foolish to himself: she was not alone, 
and he knew it. But he could not get the sense of it all. He was not 
only puzzled by her behavior, but by its effect on him: she frightened 
him. George normally did not frighten easily. And he never had felt 
fear with any of his immediate family. 

He was slightly reassured when, several times during the conversa- 
tion, he saw glimmers of the personality he had known in their young 
years when they were inseparable companions. But at those moments 
she seemed to be appealing for help or trying to overcome some 
obstacle he could not define and she could not tell him of. Then the 
wave of fear would come on him again. And he remembered his 
mother's voice as she spoke to him earlier that day: "You'll see. She 
won't stand for it." Partly out of curiosity, partly to satisfy his mother's 
request, he decided to hide the crucifix in the room as his mother had 
asked him. 

When Marianne went to the bathroom, George placed the small 
crucifix under her mattress. No sooner had Marianne returned and sat 
on the edge of the bed than she turned white as chalk and fell rigidly 
to the floor, where she lay jerking her pelvis back and forth as though 
in great pain. In seconds the expression on her face had changed from 
dreamy to almost animal; she foamed at the mouth and bared her 
teeth in a grimace of pain and anger. 

George ran out and called her parents on a pay phone. They arrived 
about three-quarters of an hour later, bringing the family doctor with 
them. That night they took Marianne back to their home in upper 

There followed weeks of nightmare for her parents and George. 
They now had full access to her. She lay in what the doctor loosely 
described as a coma. She would, however, wake up irregularly, take a 
little nourishment, fall into paroxysms of growling and spitting, was 
always incontinent and had to be washed continually, and finally 
would lapse back into the strange comatose state. 

Sometimes they would find her wandering around the room in the 
middle of the night, stumbling over the furniture in the darkness, her 
face frozen into a horrible smile. Drugs and alcohol were ruled out as 
causes of her condition. Hospitalization was considered and rejected. 
Although she was undernourished, their doctor and a colleague of his 
could find nothing organically wrong and no trace of disease or injury. 

From the beginning, her father insisted that their parish priest come 


to their home where Marianne now lay, but each visit was cata- 
strophic. It was as if she knew in advance the priest was coming. She 
had terrifying fits of rage and violence. She would awaken, endeavor to 
attack the priest, pour out a stream of obscenity, tear her own skin, try 
to jump out their fifteenth-story window, or start battering her head 
against the wall. 

There were constant disturbances. The door of her room would 
never stay either open or shut; it was continually banging to and fro. 
Pictures, statues, tables, windowpanes, crockery were regularly frag- 
mented and crushed. It was, finally, all this, plus the unbearable and 
constant stench, that sent her mother and brother to Church 
authorities. No matter how she was washed and deodorized, and the 
room scoured and cleaned, it always smelled of sodden filth and a 
putrefaction unknown to them. All this, together with Marianne's 
extreme violence when a rosary or a crucifix was put to her lips, 
convinced her family finally that her illness was more than physical or 

When Peter arrived in New York in mid-August, he was given a 
short briefing. He insisted on two preliminary visits and examinations; 
during these, there was surprisingly no violence. First, he accompanied 
two doctors, chosen by him, on a visit to Marianne. She cooperated 
fully with them. On the second visit, he had an experienced 
psychiatrist with him. This expert prolonged his examinations for two 
or three weeks, taking copious notes, tape-recording conversations, 
discussing the case with colleagues, questioning her parents and 
friends. His conclusion was that he could not help her. He recom- 
mended another colleague of his. After a hypnosis session, more 
lengthy conversations with Marianne, and relying as well on the results 
of drug therapy, his colleague pronounced Marianne normal within 
the definition of any psychological test or understanding. 

It was the beginning of October before Peter felt he could be 
morally sure he had a genuine case of possession in Marianne, and that 
he could safely proceed with the exorcism. He planned to start it early 
on a Monday morning. Beforehand, he chose his assistants and then 
spent many hours schooling them as to how they should act, what to 
do, and what not to do during the ritual of Exorcism. Their chief 
function was to restrain Marianne physically. Peter had a younger 
priest as his chief assistant; he had to monitor Peter's actions, warn 
him if mastery of the situation were slipping from him, correct any 


mistakes he might make, and — in Peter's words — "poleaxe me and 
carry on in my place if I make the ultimate mistake." All the assistants 
were given one absolute rule: never say anything in direct response to 
what Marianne might say. 

Late on the Sunday evening preceding his Monday morning 
appointment at Marianne's home, as Peter sat chatting after dinner 
with some friends, he received a frantic call for help from George. 
Marianne's condition was worse than ever before. She raged around 
the apartment, screaming Peter's name. There had been a series of 
disturbances in the house that still continued unabated. And they were 
beginning to spread beyond the family's apartment. Not only were the 
neighbors complaining; his parents had already been the victims of 
some freak accidents. The situation was getting out of hand. 

Peter left immediately, and arrived at the apartment some time past 
midnight. He set about preparing for immediate start of the exorcism. 
His assistants had already arrived. He did not approach Marianne's 
room. Under his directions, they entered, stripped the bedclothes from 
the bed, placed Marianne on a blanket thrown on the mattress. She 
made no resistance, but lay on her back, her eyes closed, moaning and 
growling from time to time. They stripped the carpet from the floor, 
and removed all but two pieces of furniture. Peter needed a small 
night table for the candlesticks, the crucifix, and his prayer book. The 
tape recorder was placed in a chest of drawers. The windows were 
closed securely and the blinds drawn. It was after 3:30 a.m. before all 
was ready for the exorcism. 

The four assistants gathered around Marianne's bed in the little 
room. The only light came from the candles on the night table. Around 
them wafted the stale stench that marked Marianne's presence; even 
the little balls of cottonwool dipped in an ammonia solution which 
they had placed in their nostrils did not kill that smell. Occasionally, 
the honking of a car or the scream of a police siren sounded in their 
ears from the streets below. None of them felt at ease, The centerpiece 
of this scene, Marianne, lay motionless on the bed. 

When Peter entered wearing black cassock, white surplice, and 
purple stole, Marianne tried to turn away from where he stood at the 
foot of the bed, but two of his assistants held her down flat. There was 
no violence until he held up the crucifix, sprinkled her with holy 
water, and said in a quiet voice: "Marianne, creature of God, in the 
name of God who created you and of Jesus who saved you, I command 


you to hear my voice as the voice of Jesus' Church and to obey my 

Not even he and certainly not his assistants were prepared for the 
explosion that followed. 

Catching them all unawares, Marianne jerked free, and sat bolt 
upright on the bed. Opening her mouth in a narrow slit, she emitted a 
long, wailing howl which seemed to go on without pause for breath 
and in full blast for almost a minute. Everyone was thrown back 
physically by the force of that cry. It was not piteous, nor was it of 
hurt or appeal. It was much more like what they imagined a wolf or a 
tiger would sound like "when caught and disemboweled slowly," as 
the ex-policeman described it. It was an embodiment in sound of 
defiance and infinite pain. It confused and distressed them. Marianne's 
father burst into tears, biting his lip to stifle his own voice; he wanted 
to answer her. "One moment it made you afraid," said Peter's young 
colleague in recalling the moment. "Another moment it made you cry. 
Then you were shocked. So it went. It confused." 

By the time she was silent, they had recovered and had her pinned 
down again. She did not resist. The smile was back on her mouth, 
twisting her lips into a corkscrew shape. She was very cold to the 
touch. Her body was still, relaxed. The first words that came from her 
were calm: 

"Who are you? Do you come to disturb me? You do not belong to 
the Kingdom. Yet, you are protected. Who are you?" 


Father Peter looked up from the exorcism text. "Funny," he thought, 
"I should be sweating." His palms were dry, and his mouth. He 
glanced at the girl. Her eyes were closed, but her eyeballs were 
obviously moving beneath her lids as if she were caught in animated 
conversation. That smile still lay across her lips like a curled whip. Her 
head was now turned slightly to one side as if listening. 

"Marianne!" He said it in a half- whisper, not finding his voice easily. 
No answer. Silence for about ten seconds. Then, this time command- 
ingly: "Marianne!" 

"Why curse your gentle heart" — Marianne's words were spoken 
softly — "I am now of the Kingdom. Didn't you know?" A pause. "So, 


please hump off." Another pause. "With little Zio." A little laugh. 
Then: "Betcha he doesn't know how to hump, fella!" 

The edge of her teeth appeared like a white curve behind the lips. 
The crow's-feet melted away from around her eyes. The whole 
expression hardened. ''Unless . . . unless . . . unless you want to play 
socket to my hammerrrrrrr . . ," Her words had come out all slurred 
and on one breath but with no noticeable lip movement. Peter could 
hear the end of that lungful of air as the prolonged "r" died away like 
an echo into nothingness. 

The four assistants stirred and looked at each other. The bank 
manager, now perspiring freely, felt for the waxen pads in his ears to 
reassure himself they were still there. James, the younger priest, 
caught his breath and was about to speak when Marianne spoke again, 
this time in a husky voice. 

"Sorry, Peter." She sounded just like a lover who had kissed a little 
too violently, was sorry, but might bite again if disappointed. 

"Marianne!" This time insistingly. The name acted like the pull of 
invisible wires. Her body became rigid. Her head was flat on the bed, 
face to the ceiling; the eyeballs turned up behind the eyelids were still; 
the skin, marbleized and utterly smooth, looked ten years younger. For 
all the world, this was a teenage student listening intently to her 
professor. Except for the smile. 

"Lechah venichretha verith. " * The Hebrew words came off her lips 
quite intelligibly to Peter. "A deal," she continued, "just you, Peter, 
and me. Peter the Eater." 

A window opened in Peter's memory releasing a small sharp panic 
in him. It was like a bat zigzagging at him out of the night of memory. 
And like a grain of grit thrown in his eye and stinging him to tears. 
"Don't worry. No one will know it. Only me." Mae's face and voice 
were back with him for an instant from that distant summer evening. 
They were so dear in his memory. But Marianne's voice seaped the 
memory to ashes. 

"A deal, Peter! Let's talk of the Un in the All-Holy. Aleph. Beth. 
Gimel. Daleth. Shin. Forget your Hebrew in all that hair and skin?" 
The tone was level, throaty, neither male nor female, grittily mocking. 
The grain of panic in Peter now became a boulder pushing him against 
the bars of his mind, as he sought refuge. He remembered the neat 
trap, and the words of old Conor: "Nivir discuss, me bhoy. Nick's a 

* "Come! Let's make a deal." 


pahst mahsther at it. He'll have yeh bet in wan tick uv a lamb's tail." 

Peter made a new effort at mental control. His panic receded. 

But the Pretense continued. "Tschah! Peter! What's a little Hebrew 
between you and me?" The voice was less throaty now, appealing, 

'In the name of Jesus, I command you, Marianne, to answer." 

"Why can't we forget the past? You forget it. I forget it. So 
everybody's happy, Peter." 

"Marianne, you belong to the Most High . . ." 

"Forget it, Peter!" The hard note again. "Don't be a bore. This is, is, 
is Marianne. The real Marianne . . ." 

"Marianne, we love you, and we know you. Jesus knows you. God 
knows you. Answer me in the name of Jesus who saved you." 

"If you're thinking of that little pimply girl with no breasts and 
heavy glasses and her silver cross and her calloused knees ..." 

"Only love can save and heal, Marianne." Peter knew that 
confrontation was being avoided, and the voice of Pretense went on. 

"... and her no-mother-yes-mother-no-father-yes-father-bless-me- 
father-for-I-have-sinned. Forget it, Peter." The throaty tone had 
returned; but there was a silky snarl laced with contempt and, Peter 
felt, some tiny threat. 

A sound caught Peter's ear. Marianne's father was shaking and 
looking at the chest of drawers. For the last 17 hours, that chest of 
drawers had never stayed in exactly the same place. This had not been 
too disturbing. But now it rocked back and forth at irregular intervals; 
the brass handles rattled. 

"Throw some holy water on that thing," Peter whispered to his 
colleague. He heard some short hissing sounds like drops of water 
falling on a red-hot stove. 

But — even as quickly as that — the initiative had been taken out of 
Peter's hands. He had been distracted by her father's reactions and his 
own whispered order. 

"Peter? You okay?" She had a mocking solicitude in her tones. The 
rattling had ceased. "About that Un. What's the difference?" 

Peter clenched his teeth and decided to be assertive. "The 
All-Holy," he said flatly, "is one." 

"Ah! But to be complete, the All-Unholy goes with it." 

"Dirt does not go with cleanliness." 

"Without darkness, no light, Peter. No light." 


"The All-Holy cannot go with the All-Unholy." 

"Wrong, Peter pet, pet Peter." 

Peter's mental grip weakened for an instant, as he felt the claws of 
argument closing around his mind. Fatally his logic rose. Conor's 
warning faded in a kind of cry to intellectual battle, and he blurted 
out: "Impossible — " 

"Now, we're on the ball." Her voice rose, cut in triumphantly. "I 
know your fuddy-duddy medieval Principle of Contradiction. Esse et 
non-esse non possunt identiftcari.* Even know the Latin! But that's for 
now, Peter. See? Only for now. It can be different." 

Peter forced himself away from argument. 


"No, Peter . . ." 

"In the name . . ." 

"Of the All-Unholy and, if you wish, the All-Holy. No objection." 
Then that terrible little laugh. "Some day soon, your esse and your 
non-esse will go together like . . ." 

". . . of Jesus, Marianne . . ." 

". . . a cock in a cunt, like a hand in a glove. Mine do . . . did . . . 
will . . ." 

Suddenly she vibrated in a high-pitched scream, shoulders, hips, 
thighs, feet, hands, all beating against the hands that held her down, 
like a woman driven to insanity with caresses but cut short of orgasm: 
"Will somebody fuck me, fuck the esse out of my ass, Peter. Put your 
esse in me and fuck me, fuck me." She ended in a forlorn wail. 

Marianne's uncle gasped for air, as if throttled by a blow across the 
throat. Peter's eardrums ached from that scream. He almost felt the 
hot tears of her father, who was now crying quietly, biting his lips as 
he held his daughter down. 

Peter knew: the Pretense was wearing thin; something had to give. 
But they were not yet in sight of the Breakpoint. 

Suddenly Marianne went limp. The men relaxed their grip on her 
and stood back. A high color crept into her cheeks. The voice that 
came from her throat now was youngish, full of interest, calm, as 
though reciting a lesson, cascading with soft syllables. As she spoke, 
her head moved from side to side, eyes closed. The whip-smile was 
now a coy kitten playing around the corners of her mouth. 

"I have been on a simple quest. You see. No harm to anybody. Not 

"Being and nonbeing cannot be one and the same." 


even to myself. Only, I wanted to end all the painful choosing. 
Mummy and Daddy could not help me. Nor my teachers. Nor 
boyfriends. All of them were split with decisions. All of them tortured 
by their choices. Afraid. Yes. You see? They were afraid. Had fears. 
Like dogs yapping at their heels. Is this right? Is this happy? Is this 
possible? Is this impossible? Miles and miles of yapping mongrel 
questions. I knew if I found my real self, there would be no more need 
to respond to choices and therefore no more fear of error. No more 

Peter understood there was no hope of arresting this flow of her 
speech. She was eluding him now by a stratagem of logical talk into 
which he could not enter without closing steel jaws around his mind. It 
would be all over. Fatally. The only way of "teasing" her out of this 
tricky stage of the Pretense was by an equally sustained flow of talk in 
direct contradiction to the sense of what she was saying. 

For long minutes and at various stages, Peter and Marianne 
responded as if chanting antiphonal psalms, one taking up where the 
other left off. But there was no sequence or logical connection 
between what each was saying. The only point on which he 
endeavored to match her was the manner of speaking. When she 
whispered, he whispered. When she shouted, he shouted. When she 
murmured, he murmured. When she interrupted, he interrupted her. 
When she was silent, he fell silent. If one could have visualized their 
struggle at this phase, it would have been like a surrealistic slow- 
motion Olympic wrestling match in which the contestants strove with 
each other's shadow, while all colors and actions faded into blurry 
grayness, and scores were kept by a referee never seen or heard but 
felt as a sure and eerie presence. 

"Possible and impossible," Marianne cooed, "make all human 
happenings impossible, posing suppurating distinctions and pat parti- 
sanships and perfunctory periods ..." 

"If a man has any love for me," Peter read, "he will be true to my 
word." He was battering against the confusion, the numbing use of 
words that lulled the mind toward nothingness. "And then he shall 
love my Father; and we will both come to him and make our abode 
with him . . ." 

". . . in between us and our other halves," Marianne interrupted. 
"Saying to the Yin in me: Thou shalt not have thine Yang. Saying to 
the Yang in you: Thou shalt not have a Yin ..." 

Peter cut Marianne off again. "The branch that does not live on in 


the vine can yield no fruit of itself/' The very simplicity of the words 
gave Peter new blood. His voice was calm. "No more than you . . ." 

". . . making a male the creature of his dangling ganglions," 
screamed Marianne violently, "and a female the bed of her clit and her 
clots and her ..." 

". . . if you do not live on in me," Peter said at the top of his voice. 
"I am the vine; you, its branches; if a man lives on in me, and I, in him, 
then he . . ." 

". . . torn by womb." Marianne was now snarling the words in a 
hoarse yell. "He out. She in. And never the twain shall meet except in 
sweat and groans. Ugh! For out's out ..." Now Marianne blew out a 
great gust of air at the candles on the night table at the foot of the bed. 
The young priest shielded them with the cupped palms of his hands. 

Peter would not disengage. He went on, still knifing at the 
confusion, the verbal expression of the stink in the room, using the 
words that kept him free. ". . . will yield abundant fruit; separated 
from me, you have no power to . . ." 

". . . and in's in," she broke across him. "This cut-and-dried 
business started long ago with all that crap of master and slave, 
creature and creator, god and man. The whole cotton-pickin', 
mother-fuckin' ..." 

". . . anything," Peter continued imperturbably with his text. "If a 
man does not live on in me. he can only ..." 

"... winners-and- losers game." She paused slightly for a moment, 
as if listening, "The fella in that white robe with that camp-following 
whore and her vaseline. And then for us . . ." 

She broke off. Her eyes opened and she sat up in bed. The 
ex-policeman and the bank manager, fearing violence, reached for her 
arms. But there was none. Father James thought of the old lithograph 
of Jesus and Mary Magdalen that hung in the rectory. 

"Yeah, my young eunuch. That's him and her," said Marianne, 
laughing and looking at James crookedly and conspiratorially. 

But Peter's voice recalled the stunned James to reality. 

". . . be like the branch that is cast off and withers away. Such a 
branch is . . ." 

"Mother Mary Maidenhead Virgilius announced that the impossible 
can't be possible." Marianne was lying back once more on the bed. 
"You're telling us, we all chorused at her . . ." 

Peter caught the sardonic tone. His voice went hard as he cut her off. 


". . . useless and cast into the fire, to burn there. I pray for those 
who are to find faith in me through their word; that they may be all 
one; that they too may be one in us, as thou, Father, art in me, and 
I . . ." 

". . . withered boobs and remembering her fallen womb and her 
pasty complexion at curse time every month/' Marianne's voice was 
once again rising to a falsetto. "If only you had known, Mother dear! 
The impossible isn't . . ." 

Marianne was chuckling. Peter kept the hard note in his tone, as he 
took up where she had cut him off: ". . . in thee; so that the world 
may believe that it is thou who has sent me." 

Still talking, Marianne now turned over on her side, relaxed. While 
she spoke, the doctor took her pulse as he was supposed to do every 
quarter of an hour, when her movements didn't make this too difficult. 

". . . possible unless the impossible is actual. Otherwise the 
impossible would be impossible. Must be really impossible, though. 
Really/ 7 Her tone was confidential. "For the possible to be possible, I 
mean. Must have both. Must have . . ." 

Peter's voice sank low and vibrant: "This is my commandment that 
you should love one another, as I have loved you. This is the 
greatest ..." 

They all jerked to attention: Marianne's body had become rigid as a 
plank of wood. She was still talking: ". . . both." Now her words ran 
ahead of him. He looked up, listening and watching for any telltale 
sign that the Breakpoint was upon them. She continued feverishly. 

"The real is real because of the unreal. The clean, clean because of 
the unclean. The full, full because of the empty. The perfume, 
perfume because of the smelly. The holy, holy because of the unholy." 
Then in an intense rush of words interspersed with grunts intent on 
hammering home contradictions, in an unholy pursuit of all that could 
confuse and confound human thought and open blankness in the 
mind: "Sweet sweet huh bitter. What is is huh what isn't. Life life huh 
death." Each grunt preceded an opposite and sounded as though 
Marianne were being punched in the stomach each time. "Pleasure 
pleasure huh pain. Hot hot huh cold." Then in a chain of words pasted 
together in a scream: "Updoumfatthinhighlowhardsoftlongshortlight- 
ch ..." The piping voice died away on that long, coagulated 
mishmash as if choking on its breath. The effort had been so violent 


that Marianne seemed to be almost plucked off the bed, every part of 
her prone body straining upward, 

Peter resumed his reading evenly. "I have no longer much time for 
conversation with you. One is coming, who has power over the world, 
but no hold over me. Now is the time when the Prince of this world is 
to be cast out . . ." He paused in the middle of the sentence and 
looked at Marianne. 

She was still lying rigid, her legs apart, hands on her crotch. A low 
whispered growl started in her throat and parted her lips. 

Peter started to whisper: "Yes, if only I am lifted up from the earth, 
I will attract all men to myself." He stopped, no longer hearing that 

Marianne's body relaxed. She rolled over jerkily on her other side. In 
a girlish voice, a seemingly instantaneous departure in a new direction: 
"Binaries, we need them, y'know? Yessir. Cybernetics has 'em. Before 
and after. Plus and minus. Odd and even. Negative and positive. 
Always to be with us. But just as far as that: with us. Not splitting us." 

Peter would not be pulled aside or try to follow any sense of 
Marianne's words. That same trap, that constant, easy invitation to 
defeat. He took up again: "He who rules this world has had sentence 
passed on him already. The spirit will bring honor to me because it is 
from me . . ." 

"He who is not with me," she took up, interrupting in a dreadfully 
mocking falsetto, "is against me, sez the Lord. No man can serve two 
masters, sez the Lord." Lowering her tone: "Ever see two pricks in the 
ass and cunt of one broad and she pumping back and forth servicing 
two masters?" Her father turned his face away and leaned on the 
policeman's shoulder. 

Again the falsetto: "Whom do men say I am? sez he. Black and 
white, sez he." Now the falsetto rose to a howl that pierced the ears of 
Peter and the others, making them wince and grimace: "You're in, sez 
he. You're out, sez he. The Lord God of Ghosts. Sheep 'n' goats, sez 
he. Doves and devils, sez he. Golden clouds and bloody brimstone. 
Driving a nail in the heart. Opening up a gaping wound in my 
oneness." Then, raising her pelvis up and down rhythmically and 
shouting at the top of her voice: "Jeebum! Jeebum! Jeebum! Jeebum!" 

". . . the Father belongs to me," said Peter calmly, finishing his 
interrupted sentence. 

Marianne stopped as Peter said those words. Now he was standing 
by the window but facing into the room and watching Marianne on 


the bed. She whimpered piteonsly: "All I want is no more questions. 
No more challenges. No more choices. No more yesses and noes. Not 
even maybes. No thou-shalt-nots. In the Kingdom ..." Then in a 
suddenly deep gurgle like a man who needs no air but speaks through 
gallons of water ". . . in the Kingdom in the Kingdom in the 
Kingdom . . ." 

Every instinct in Peter drummed at him to put pressure on her. He 
felt that the Pretense was almost over, that Marianne's revolt against 
possession would break out now, and that the evil occupying her 
would be forced to fight openly to retain its hold. 

Peter moved quietly to Marianne's side, still looking for the telltale 
signs on her face. If the Breakpoint were near, then all expression 
should be absent; and there should be queer and unnaturally crooked 
lines. Sure enough, the face was a frozen mask grained with stark lines. 

"Father, is she going to come out of it?" It was Marianne's father. 

Peter ignored the question. Put the pressure on, his instinct told 
him. Now! Fast! 

"Jesus, Marianne. The name is ..." 

"Jeebum! Jesusass! Jeebum! Jesusass! Jeebum!" She was howling 
again. Peter wanted desperately to cover his ears against the slivers of 
pain that pierced his brain. 

"Watch it!" he shouted to his assistants as he saw her two 
forefingers shoot into her nostrils and begin tearing at them. He 
jumped to her side again. "Pin her down!" 

Every pair of hands clamped down on her. They held on. Each one 
had his own memory of some wild animal: a tiger in a zoo cage, a 
hyena lowering at another hyena, a sow fighting the hands at a 
slaughterhouse. The sides of Marianne's mouth were pulled back — it 
seemed the grimace stretched to her ears — baring teeth, gums, tongue. 
A grayish foam bubbled and seeped over her lower lip and down her 
chin. Her eyes were open but rolled up so far that they saw only white, 
red-streaked patches glistening wet. Two men pinned her arms to the 
bed; one leaned on her belly; another held her legs still. 

It seemed no human being could survive what Marianne was going 
through. The doctor closed his eyes as his own perspiration stung into 

"Hold on, for the love of God," Peter said. 

The muffled "zheeeeeeeeeee" buzzing between her teeth died away 
to nothing. Her eyelids closed. "Stay put," muttered the ex-policeman, 


"she's still all tight." The doctor lifted one of Marianne's eyelids, then 
let it fall shut again. 

Peter had won. The Pretense had failed. But it was many hours after 
the start, and only the end of round one. He recited the second part of 
the Exorcism ritual, while his assistants stood back watching. 

As always before, the Breakpoint came at the precise moment Peter 
least expected it. It started with a sound difficult to describe. A horse 
whimpering. A dog whinnying. A man meowing. It was the very sound 
of pain. Of nature violated by unnature. Of deep agony. Of protest. Of 
helplessness. "Supposing a cadaver, after the death rattle and after the 
grimacing of the last breath was over, started to cry for help, what do 
you imagine it would sound like?" Peter asked later in an effort to 
describe this indescribable sound. "Or supposing when you were 
closing his dead eyelids with your thumb and forefinger" (he made the 
motion with spatular fingers) "and supposing you missed one eye, and 
it looked up at you still glassy and dead — you know how they 
look — and it filled with genuine tears. That's the feeling. Something 
reaching out from the middle of all the worms and putrid flesh and 
stink and body water and silent immobility of death, saying: 'I'm alive! 
Pull me out! For the love of Jesus, save me!' That was Marianne when 
the Breakpoint began. The tug of war for her soul that nearly broke 
me in two." 

Now, Peter felt, he could appeal directly to Marianne and aid her. 
He started to read the first part of another "teaser text" slowly. 

"Marianne. You were baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, 
and the Holy Spirit. You belong to Jesus. It was the sacrifice of his life 
that made it possible for you to belong to God. Whatever of beauty, of 
love, of kindness, of gentleness there was in you — all came from Jesus. 
He knows you, knows every fiber of your being, is more than a friend, 
nearer than your mother, more loving than any lover, more faithful to 
you than you yourself can be. Speak! Speak! Speak out! And tell me 
you are listening. Speak and tell me you want to be saved in the name 
of Jesus who saved you and in the name of God who created you. 

Looking over the top of the book, he could see her hands relaxing 
and being placed at her sides by his assistants. The ear-to-ear grimace 
faded. Her eyes were open but still turned up so far that you felt she 
was looking into her own eye sockets. The whites of her eyes glistened. 
There was complete silence. The doctor took her pulse. "She's as cold 


as ice." "Okay, okay," Peter answered the doctor, with a motion of his 
head, never taking his gaze off Marianne. 

Marianne's whole body was limp now. It looked heavy, sodden with 
fatigue. A faint bluish coloration gave an eerie appearance to her 
hands, arms, feet, neck, and face. All was still. He heard breathing: his 
own, his assistants'. Marianne's he could not hear. 

The doctor reported a faint pulse. "She's very low, Peter," he said. 
Peter held up his hand restraining further comment. The moments 
ticked by. Her father cleared his throat and brushed his eyes: "It's 
over, Father?" Peter silenced him with a quick, almost rude shake of 
his head. He watched, waiting for the slightest change. "If it's going to 
happen, it's now," he said half to himself, half-aloud; "Keep watch- 

But with the intolerable strain of silence, he felt the muscles in his 
calves, back, and arms relaxing. His grip loosened on his book. His 
head began to straighten up. The younger priest unfolded his arms. A 
radio blared in a downstairs apartment. Gradually the silence took 
over as a welcome blanket wrapping itself around their ears and 
swaddling the entire room. It gave an uneasy feeling to find oneself 
getting lost in that silence after the shouting, the discordancy, and the 
lethal sound of the gurgling voice Marianne had used. 

The pain began to ease in Peter's mind. Still gazing at Marianne's 
face, he thought of Conor in Rome, of Zio — now Paul VI — in New 
York. And he thought of sleep. He glanced at his watch. It was 9:25 
p.m, Mass at Yankee Stadium should almost be finished. This ordeal in 
the room should also be finished soon. Soon, hopefully, they could all 
go home and sleep . . . sleep . . . sleep. 

Sleep? Through the settling haze of his fatigue, the thought 
triggered Peter's memory. Hadn't Conor warned him that sleep, 
sleepiness, the desire to rest, sometimes came as a last trap, usually 
preceding a last onslaught of the Presence? 

But he was a few moments too late. As Conor's phrase lit up like a 
red signal in his memory: "Moind the sleeperrr, lad. Moind the 
sleeperrr! Tis all up wid yah, if yeh fergit the sleeperrr!", it was 
already upon him. 

It was sudden, And yet the Presence seemed as if it had been 
clutching at him for ages beforehand, already had a hold on the vitals 
of his being. His body shuddered as he whispered, "Jesus! Jesus!" 

The others heard only a groan from him and thought that he had 
tried to say something without having cleared his throat. 


"Okay, Father?" asked the doctor. 

Peter gestured wearily with his hand. This fight was all his. The 
others would be unknowing witnesses. 

The Presence was everywhere and nowhere. Peter fought off the 
instinct to step back or to look around or, most of all, to run far and 
fast. "Freeze yer moind," had been Conor's advice. "Freeze it in luv. 
Shtick there, lad." But, Holy Jesus! how? The Presence was all over 
him, inside him, outside him. A total trap of cloying ropes he couldn't 
see. He heard no word, saw no vision, smelled no odor. But his skin 
was no longer the protective shell of his mortality. His skin didn't 
work! It was now a porous interface that let the invisible filth of the 
Presence ooze in. Worst of all was the silence of it. It was soundless. 
Suddenly he had been attacked and caught; and he knew his adversary 
was superior and ruthless, that it had invaded deep into the self he 
always hid from others and hoped only God did know and would 
never show him until he was strong enough to bear the sight. 

He could not discern where the struggle lay. His confusion of mind 
was like molasses oozing over spiders, paralyzing every effort at 
control and every natural movement. Sometimes it seemed his will was 
made of rubber twisted this way and that and cruelly snapping back at 
his mind like a wet towel smacking the face. Sometimes his mind was a 
sieve through which stinging particles tumbled, each one tabbed with 
a jeering name: Despair! Dirt! Smell! Puny! Mush! Misery! Mockery! 
Hate! Beast! Shame! . . . There was no end to them. At other times, 
he realized, his mind and will were only exits, sewage pipes; and his 
imagination was the recipient of what they vomited. Out through 
them were pouring the shapes of the real struggle that lay in another 
dimension of himself. Deep down? High up? Conscious? Unconscious? 
Subconscious? He did not know. But certainly somewhere in the 
depths of the self he was. All the hidden valleys of that self were red 
with his agony. Every high peak was a sharp slope of tumbling 
confusion. Each plain and corner was crammed with pressure and 
weight and sorrow. His imagination was now a cesspool swelling with 
gobs of repulsive images and twisted fears. 

"I'm alone," he thought, covering his face with his hands for an 

"Yes! Alone! Alone! Alone! Alone!" came the answer in silent 

It seemed to be himself answering himself with a blasphemy as 
primal as the scream of the first man who murdered another man, and 


as actual as the grunt of the latest mugger on that same October night 
driving his knife deep into the back of his victim on Lenox Avenue. 

"Oh, God! Oh, Jesus!" Peter exclaimed within himself. "Oh, God! 
Oh, Jesus! I'm finished . . ." 

Then, as suddenly as it had come, and for no reason he could 
discern, the Presence receded from him; but it did not leave 
altogether. Peter felt as if extended claws pricked themselves loose out 
of his flesh and mind and folded back unwillingly. 

Without Peter's knowing, a small gale of consternation — a pale copy 
of his own agony — buffeted his assistants all this time as they kept 
troubled watch over Marianne. 

Little patches of relief spotted Peters consciousness. His eyes 
focused again. Over rims of tears, he could now see her. She was a 
body of trembling. It seemed that everything beneath her skin and hair 
and clothes was moving in unnatural agitation, arhythmically, but that 
her exterior remained somehow still. Her mouth opened a fraction. 
The lips moved wordlessly. 

And then, for the third time in his life, Peter heard the Voice. 

It came from nowhere. It merely sounded; it was audible to Peter 
and all present, but it did not come from any discernible direction. It 
was everywhere in the room, but nowhere in particular. It was level in 
tone, slow in speed, without any trace of breathing or any pause. Not 
high-pitched. Not deep. Not throaty. Not tinny or nasal. Not male. Not 
female. Accentless. Controlled. Peter had once seen a film about a 
talking robot; when the robot uttered a word, each syllable, as it was 
pronounced, was followed by eddies of gurgling echoes of itself. The 
echoes muddied the next syllable; and so it went on for the syllables of 
each word in a sentence. 

The Voice was something like that, but in reverse: the eddying 
echoes of each syllable preceded the syllable itself. To the listener, it 
was excruciating to understand but impossible to blot out. It was 
distracting and dizzying. The effect was like a million voices stabbing 
the eardrum with nonsensical confusion and clamor, preechoing each 
syllable. You tried to pick out one voice, almost succeeded, then 
another piled on top of that; you tried to pick out another, but the first 
one came back at you. And so on, seeming scores of persistent voices 
exasperating you, confusing you, defeating you. Then the Voice 
pronounced the syllable; and your confusion was complete with 
frustration, for the syllable and the word were drowned in the general 


Like most people, Peter had acquired the knack of "reading" voices. 
We all develop such an instinct and have our own classification of 
voices as pleasant or unpleasant, strained or peaceful, male or female, 
young or old, strong or weak, and so on. The Voice fitted into no 
category Peter could think of. "Unhuman I suppose you'd call it," he 
said later. "But it was the same as in Hoboken and Jersey City. With 
the added touch, of course." 

The "added touch" was his way of indicating the peculiar timbre of 
the Voice at each exorcism. In Hoboken as in Jersey City the timbre 
conveyed some violent and shocking emotion that aroused fear. But 
the timbre in the Voice that October night was different. "For all the 
world," said Peter, "as if the Great Panjandrum himself was speaking, 
and all the little panjandrums pronounced each syllable before he did. 
His precursors, if you wish." 

The timbre, the "added touch," conveyed a single message: utter 
and undiluted superiority. It didn't hit the emotions, but the mind, 
freezing it with a realization that there was no possibility and could 
never be any possibility of besting it; that its owner knew this, and that 
he knew you also knew; and that this superiority was neither 
sweetened by compassion nor softened by an ounce of love nor eased 
by a grain of condescension nor restrained by one whit of benignity 
toward one of lesser stature. "If sound can be evil, with no human 
good in it all," said Peter, "that was it." It brought him up to the thin 
edge of nothingness and face to face with the anus mundi, the ultimate 
in excretion of self-aggrandizing sin. 

Then the bedlam and confusion of the Voice died away as if into 
some middle distance. 

The four assistants lifted their heads, as Marianne's own voice was 
heard speaking with heavy deliberateness, almost quietly, in compari- 
son with the preceding uproar. 

"Nobody mortal has power in the Kingdom. Anybody can belong to 
it." A short pause. "Many do." Each word had come out polished, 
precise, weighty, and clear as a newly minted gold dollar tossed onto a 
bar counter. 

Time for the final assertion, thought Peter. His final shot. The trump 
card of every exorcism: the power of Jesus and his authority. 

"By the authority of the Church and in the name of Jesus, 1 
command you to tell me what I shall call you." 

Peter kept his voice level as he issued the challenge. All his hopes 


rested on the acceptance of that challenge. Rejected, the challenge 
could only result in further distortions of Marianne. At this stage, Peter 
knew she could not take much more. But there could be no turning 
back now. And to break off was total defeat. He could feel the 
nervousness in his assistants: all and everything in the room reflected 
the tension of the moment. Peter knew, and each one present knew, 
he had issued a final challenge. 

"You command!" Now Marianne sounded amused, as though Peter 
had told a joke. He kept reminding himself that this was not Marianne, 
but the spirit using her voice. Still his heart sank a little. "I am us," he 
heard her say. "We are me. Isn't is? Aren't are? What we are called is 
beyond human mind." 

We! Peter was riveted by that key word. Only those of the Kingdom 
used it. Peter knew instantly that he was almost there and he had no 
intention of allowing the Presence to identify again with Marianne, so 
he broke in brusquely. 

"There is no immunity for you and your kind in the universe of 

The calculated and cold ruthlessness, a new note in Peter's 
interruption, brought the ex-policeman up sharp. Years of experience 
had given him a sixth sense for lethal threat and attack, for hatred and 
open disgust. He had heard many a cop speaking to arrested 
murderers in that tone, and many a killer behind bars telling of his 
hatred in as controlled a way as Peter was using now. He looked at 
Peter's face. It had changed. Something subtly merciless had lodged 

Peter continued: "You, all of you, are . . ." 

"You, you, you have no particular immunity, my friend." Marianne's 
emphasis was exact as she broke in. Nicely calculated. Just heavy 
enough to make one uneasy. Too light to betray any ripple of 
annoyance or fear. 

A vague uneasiness ran through Peter's assistants; they moved 
spontaneously nearer him. The Presence was getting to them. For all 
his instructions to them before the exorcism began, he knew there was 
no way to prepare them for the shock, the fear, the onslaught. 

Marianne's body was utterly still, her face pasty white, her lips 
barely open. After a pause, her voice continued with the merest edge 
of sharpness: "You may have polished your knee balls in a Confession 
Box" — this with a sneering inflection — "but you were not sorry, 


friend. Not always, anyway. So where is your repentance? And need I 
tell you, priest, without repentance, you have sins still? And you! You 
command the Kingdom?" 

In his memory Peter heard Conor's caution: "What happened in 
pahst histhoree, happened. The recorrd shtands. Ferivir. Loike a 
shtone n a feeld, opin V maneefist. Fer awl teh see, me bhoy. 
Incloodin' the Grate Panjandhr'm hissilf. No, don't deny it. Wallow in 

"How shall we call you?" Peter persisted. 

"We?" Sarcastically, but calmly. 

"In the name of . . ." 

"Shut your miserable mouth . . ." — it was suddenly an animal 
growling the words. "Close it! Shut it! Lock it! Fuck it!" 

". . . Jesus. Tell us: how shall we call you?" 

Then a low, long cry came from Marianne's lips. All in the room 
held their breath as the Voice gurgled and they made out the words 
with difficulty: "I will take my toll. 1 will take our pound of flesh. All 
142 pounds of him! I will take him with me, with us, with me!" 
Complete silence. Then Marianne's voice: "Smiler. 1 just smile." 

Peter glanced at her face. The name was obvious, now he knew it. 
The twisted smile was back on her mouth. Now, he realized, he had to 
deal with the most ancient of man's tempters and enemies: the hater 
who deceived you with a smile and a joke and a promise. 

The cleverness of it. How could you suspect or attack someone 
called Smiler? And if they just smile at anything you do, what can you 
do? The whole thing — God, heaven, earth, Jesus, holiness, good, 
evil — becomes a mere farce. And by the evil alchemy of that farce, 
everything becomes an ugly joke, a cosmic joke on little men who in 
their turns are only puny little jokes. And, and, and . . . the utter 
banality of all existence, the wish for nothing. 

He wrenched his mind away from this dead blanket of depression 
and concentrated again. This was the meeting point with Marianne. 

"You, Smiler, you will leave, you shall leave this creature of 
God . . ." 

"This annoying affair has gone on long enough." The words had a 
smirking quality overlaid with pomposity. "Marianne has made her 
choice." Peter's inner reaction was: We are almost there. Marianne's 
voice continued: "You understand better than these oafs do. After 
all . . ." 

"... because love is all there is needed . . ." Peter continued. 


". . . her life is short, as is yours. She takes what she can, as 
you . . ." 

"Because love is all there is needed." Peter repeated himself. But 
the monologue by Smiler went on uninterruptedly. 

". . . take it with your arrogance." 

"And you, Smiler, you rejected love." There was a sudden break in 
the exchange. For a split second Peter waited. "We came from love," 
he started again. But that was as far as he got. 

"LOVE!!!" The word was fired out at him like a pistol shot. The 
assistants bent toward Marianne, expecting violence in the wake of 
that shriek. Peter straightened up, not in suspense, not as though 
expecting more. Conor had said never trade shouts but let outbursts 
run their course. 

But there was no more shouting. It was the violence of the loathing 
in Marianne's voice that was physically painful to Peter, as it 
continued on studiously and quietly: "Yes . . ."A trailing pause, as if 
ruminating. Then: "Ah! Sixty-nine. Right? A handy image!" 

Peter winced at the tone and the mental picture. His memory was 
wilting his effort, and he prayed. 

But Marianne went on with unruffled mercilessness as if reciting 
from a technical report. "And first the tongue, its apex like a single wet 
pink eye with a white iris, goes exploring: sliding its dorsum over each 
groin, every epithelial cell registering the ripples of the musculus 
gracilis, following the tautened adductor longus, summoning saliva to 
glisten its course toward the darkling mountain, the mons veneris. Her 
saphena majora rustles and tickles with rushing blood." 

A retort rushed to Peter's mouth. He held it back. 

Marianne continued. "Then, at the os pubis it lingers, all its papillae 
hungry, tensile, wet. Filiform cries to fungiform, fungiform to 
circumvallatae, circumvallatae to foliatae; 'On! Brothers! On!' 

The doctor whistled through his teeth and glanced at Peter. But 
Peter was dangerously abstracted from the scene. He could hear Mae's 
sigh, that long-distant day in the sunshine, miles and decades apart 
from this evil encounter; he could see her lying on the slope of the 
sand dunes, felt one hand lying lightly on his belly. And then he had 
the wisping image of her lying in her coffin just before it was closed 

Inexorably the recital went on. "Amid his moans and her heaving, 
the tickling in his sacrum (ah! Resurrection Bone! Those rabbis had a 
word for it!), through his thighs; the corpus cavernosum fills up with 


thick red-black blood. The tongue stabbing within, and she closing 
around it, holding it. 

Smiler was now using Marianne's voice in a soft, matter-of-fact tone. 
There was a short pause of seconds. Then, with a burst of fierce 

"He is fucking her. And like the hyena with a dead deer" — the voice 
rose to a scream — "he starts with her anus, and she like a mother snake 
is swallowing her son. LOVE?????" A piercing, shattering scream. The 
voice fell to a sneer: "Cunni-cunni-cunni-cunni-cunni! Peter the 
Eater." Then casually, as one asks the time of day: "Tell us, Peter. Are 
you sorry? Do you miss it?" 

Marianne's father had his face buried in his hands; his shoulders 
heaved with sobbing. The ex-policeman and the banker stared 
red-faced at Peter. His young colleague leaned on the night table, his 
face ashen. The tirade, like a great, sprawling canvas, had thrown a 
mass of screaming colors and nonsensical patterns of thought and 
feelings over them all. 

The doctor reacted more quickly than the others: "Peter, can we 
pause?" He was apprehensive, seeing the bloodless color of Peter's 
face and a distracted look in his eyes. Peter gave no answer. 

Smiler, the cosmic joker, smears and tears at everything, Peter was 
thinking to himself, as he ruminated and groped toward his next step. 
Smiler, who turns memories to dirt and chokes you with them. But 
then he's not subtle. And he's not clever. Peter thought: This is either 
a trap for us, or we have Smiler trapped. Which? 

He found himself reacting by instinct: "Silence! Smiler! Silence in 
the name of Jesus! I command you to desist, to leave her. Tell me that 
you will obey, that you will leave her. Speak!" 

The other men in the room glanced at Peter, surprised at the force 
in his voice. The verbal assault had left them raw, ashamed of 
something vague, with a feeling that they had been filthied. They had 
expected Peter to wilt, to have been crushed. They had been willing to 
lose hope. 

But now they took something from him. They sensed what he knew, 
saw it on his face, and almost heard him telling them: "I may be 
engaged in this to my own humiliation. But Smiler is equally engaged 
in it and there is no escape for him. Just hold on." 

Smiler spoke, but as if Peter had never spoken. "Well! Here we have 
a thing never seen in the Kingdom" — the voice calm again — "a little 
drop of sea water pulls a little membrane around it and rots for a 


million years on an ancient, forgotten shore, and sprouts little 
hair-trigger nerves and puny little earthen mechanisms, and stands up 
on two spindly limbs one day, and says, 'I am a man,' and lifts its snout 
to skies above and says again, 'I am so beautiful' ..." 

"Silence! Desist!" 

"You ugly sod! You smelly little animal . . ." 

"And let the soul of Marianne be beautiful once more with the 
grace of . . ." 

"Beautiful?" For the first time, the voice was raised almost an 
octave higher. "Beautiful?" Now it was a shrill, high-pitched, and 
painful scream of questioning scorn. "You helpless, yelping, puking, 
licking, slavering, sweating, excreting little cur. You whipped mongrel. 
You constipated shit canister. You excuse for a being. You lump of 
urine and excrement and snot and mud born in a bed on bloody sheets, 
sticking your head out between a woman's smelly legs and bawling 
when they slapped your arse and laughed at your little red balls" — the 
scream of high-decibel invective ceased suddenly, followed by three 
syllables pronounced calmly and with loathing contempt — "You 

"And so are you, too. You creature." Peter surprised himself at his 
own self-possession: his adversary had made a mistake, and Peter knew 
it. Peter also surprised himself with the contempt he found himself 
putting in to his riposte. 

He continued: "Once nothing. Then beautiful. The most beautiful 
of all God made." The bitter taunt in Peter's voice turned every head 
but Marianne's in his direction. He went on lashing and provoking. 
"Then ugly with pride. Then conquered. Then thrown from the 
heights like a dying torch." 

A low roar issued from Marianne's mouth. 

Peter went on unabashed; he had his adversary exactly where he 
wanted him: "And expelled, and disgraced, and condemned, and 
deprived forever, and defeated forever." 

Marianne's body quivered. 

"Hold her down!" he muttered to his assistants. Just in time. She 
was shaking violently. The roar was now the bellow of a pig with a 
knife gouging out its jugular in gobs of blood. 

Peter piled it on: "You, too, creature of God, but not saved by Jesus' 

Again the long, howling wail. 

As its sound died away, Peter's whole body was electrified with fear. 


At that instant the Presence launched its hate again. Like a physical 
thing, it attacked him. It sent stinging talons into his mind and will, 
stabbing deep at the root of his determination, at some inner sensitive, 
delicate part of him where all his pain and all his pleasure lived. 

This was the Clash that Conor had analyzed so well for Peter. This 
was the climax of his one-to-one struggle. Peter made the sign of the 
cross. He knew: now one of them had to yield; one would be victor. 
He had to hold. He had to refuse to despair. Refuse disbelief. Refuse 
damnation. Refuse fear. Refuse. Refuse. Refuse. Hold on. These came 
like automatic commands to him from his inmost self. 

His first desperate thrust was to switch his mind toward any 
lifeline — any beauty or truth he had known and experienced: the cry 
of seagulls off Dooahcarrig in Kerry; the rhythmic pattern of nimble 
feet at winter dances; Mae's smile; the security of his father's house; 
the calm summer evenings he had spent off the coast of Aran Island 
looking at the Connemara mountains behind Calway City, purple 
masses welling up in a shining gold vault of sky in haze. 

But as quick as any image arose, it dried like a drop of water in a 
flame. All his internal images of loyalty, authority, hope, legitimacy, 
concern, gentleness shriveled and faded. His imagination was burning 
with an overheated despair and his mind could not help him. Only his 
will locked both mind and imagination into an immobility that pained 
and agonized him. 

But then the Presence turned silently on his will in a slash of naked 
adversity. For the others present, there was little to go on: no sound 
except Peter's heavy breathing and the shuffling of their legs as they 
endeavored to keep their balance and hold Marianne down; no 
sensation beyond the straining of Marianne's body against their hands. 

The attack on Peter was a fury beating like sharp hailstones on a tin 
roof, filling all his awareness with a ceaseless din of fears that 
paralyzed his will and mind. If only he could breathe more easily, he 
thought. Or if only he could pierce that contempt. 

Dimly he saw the candles sputtering on the night table and glinting 
on the crucified figure on the cross. 

"Rimimb'r, lad, his proide. That's his weak heel. His proide! Git him 
on his proide!" 

With Conor's voice in his memory, Peter blurted: "You have been 
vanquished, vanquished, Smiler, by one who did not fear to be lowly, 
to be killed. Depart! Smiler! Depart! You have been vanquished by a 
bloodied will. You cheat. Jesus is your master ..." 


The others present heard him croaking the words as they held 
Marianne down on the bed. A babel set in: everyone was affected. The 
chest of drawers rocked noisily back and forth, its handles clanked 
discordantly. The door to the room swung and banged, swung and 
banged, swung and banged. Marianne's body shirt split down the 
middle, exposing her breasts and middle. Her jeans tore at the seams. 
Her voice rose louder and louder in a series of slow, staccato screams. 
Great welts appeared across her torso, groin, legs, and face, as if an 
invisible horsewhip was thrashing her unmercifully. She struggled and 
kicked and heaved and spat. Now she was incontinent, urinating and 
excreting all over the bed, filling their nostrils with acrid odor. 

Peter kept murmuring: "He vanquished you. He vanquished you. 
He vanquished you . . ." But the pain in his will struggling against 
that will began to numb him; and his throat was dry. His eyes blurred 
over. His eardrums were splitting. He felt dirty beyond any human 
cleansing. He was slipping, slipping, slipping. 

"Jesus! Mary! . . . Conor," he whispered as his knees buckled, "it's 
all lost, I can't hold. Jesus! . . ." 

Seven thousand miles away across ocean and continent, in Rome, 
the doctor nodded to the nurse as he stepped out of Father Conor's 
room. He told the father superior there was no point in calling the 
ambulance. The damage was too massive this time. It would be a 
matter of mere hours. 

It was Conor's third stroke. He had been fine all that evening. Then 
in the small hours of the morning, he had called his superior on the 
house phone from his room: "Fatherr, I'm goin' teh cause yeh throubel 
agin." When they reached Conor, they found him slumped over his 
desk, his right hand clutching a crucifix. 

"Father, it's all right. It's me. It's all over." 

Peter's younger colleague helped Peter to his feet. Peter had fallen 
on his knees and bent over until his forehead touched the floor. By the 
bed, Peter saw the doctor was listening to Marianne's heartbeat with a 
stethoscope. Her father was stroking her hand and talking to her 
through his tears: "It's all right, my baby. It's all right. You're through. 
You're safe, baby. It's all right." 

The bank manager had gone outside to talk with Marianne's mother 
and brother. Marianne was quiet now, breathing regularly. The bed 


was a shambles. The ex-policeman opened the window, and the sounds 
of traffic entered the room. It was around 10:15 p.m. 

"I must phone Conor early," Peter said to his colleague. Then, "I 
wonder what else happened today?" He looked over at Marianne 
again. "Zio's visit can't be all." 

Father James looked at him dumbly, not catching the train of his 
thought. He would never understand exorcists, he felt. 

Then Peter continued: "Is it because love is one throughout the 
world, and hate is one throughout the world?" Peter addressed the 
seeming vague question to no one in particular. 

The younger priest turned away from the pain he saw on Peter's 
face; it was more than he could take just now. "I will get you some 
coffee," he said brusquely, feeling the hot tears at the back of his own 

But Peter was looking out the window at the night sky. His mind 
was far away, his senses almost asleep with fatigue. 

Down below Marianne's window, the crowds were returning from 
Yankee Stadium. Zio at that moment was standing in a darkened 
gallery of the Vatican Pavilion at the New York World's Fair, gazing at 
Michelangelo's Pietd: the dead Jesus in the arms of his mother. 
Television cameras carried his voice to millions that night: "We bless 
all of you, invoking upon you an abundance of heavenly blessings and 

Father Bones 
and Mister Natch 

The marriage was to take place at 8:00 a.m. on the Massepiq seashore, 
just around Dutchman's Point, New England. It was already a bright 
and sunny March day at 7:30 a.m. as the first guests arrived. A 
landward breeze, like the breath of the sun from the East, blew 
clusters of white clouds across the blue morning sky and juggled the 
sea with ripples. The tide, almost fully in and about to ebb, was like a 
formless giant exhaling and inhaling. It sent wave after wave in an 
unbroken flow to the long shoreline. Each one broke there with a 
sharp tap on the sand, spread out a running tapestry of whitened water 
with a rustling whisper, and then was sucked rasping back over sand 
and pebbles. 

This music of the waters and the thin piping of the wind was a quiet 
but powerful rhythm that ebbed and flowed, uninterrupted by any 
other sound. As the guests came, they fell under its spell. It was the 
voice of a very ancient world that had always existed, always moved, 
and now seemed to be putting them, the intruders, on notice: "This is 
my world you have entered. But since this is the morning of man and 
woman, my children, I will pause a while. This is a new beginning/' 

It was, in fact, exactly the sort of morning that Father Jonathan had 
hoped for. Everything was natural. The only perfume was the air, crisp 
with a little chill, fresh with salt, exhilarating with light. The only 
sanctuary was the sharply shelving beach, with the sand dunes behind 
it, the sea in front of it, its roof the wide dome of the sky. The only 
altar was formed by the barefoot bride and bridegroom standing 


where the waters spread a constantly renewed carpet of foam and 
spindrift around their feet. The only music was the sounding sea and 
breeze. The only mystery was this beginning undertaken by two 
human beings in view of an unseen future. 

Father Jonathan arrived last. Punctually at eight he began the 
ceremony. Barefoot like the bride and the bridegroom, wearing a 
white sleeveless shirt over his denims and a gold-colored stole around 
his neck, he stood at the edge of the tide, the sea to his right and the 
land to his left. In front of him stood Hilda and Jerome, the boy and 
the girl to be married, both in their early twenties. She, in a white 
ankle-length dress gathered at her waist by a belt woven of long 
grasses, her hair parted in the middle, falling down on her shoulders. 
He, wearing a white shirt over blue shorts. Their faces were quiet and 
calm, swept clean of any trouble. 

Hilda and Jerome had their eyes fixed on Jonathan's as he began to 
speak in a loud and exulting voice which, bell-like, carried to the ears 
of the 40 or so people standing some yards away at the edge of the 
sand dunes. "Here on the sand by the sea, here where all great human 
things have always begun, we stand to witness another great 
beginning. Hilda and Jerome are about to promise each other to each 
other in the greatest of all human beginnings.'' 

A pleasant sense of anticipation ran through the listeners. Athletic, 
bronzed, graceful, deliberate in his movements, taller than either the 
boy or the girl in front of him, golden hair touching his shoulders, 
Jonathan was in complete, even dramatic command of the situation. 
His eyes had the peculiar blue sheen you cannot believe to be natural 
until you see it. A fire of blue seemed to burn in them, giving off a 
hypnotic brilliance. They lacked the warm sentiment of brown eyes; 
but a burnished patina prevented you from reading them, and this 
created their mystery. 

Only one thing marred Jonathan's appearance. As he gestured 
grandly and raised his hand in an initial blessing, some of the guests 
noticed it: his right index finger was crooked. He could not straighten 
it. But it was a little thing swallowed up in the golden-blue morning, in 
the blaze of Jonathan's eyes, in the lilt of the moving sea. 

As Jonathan's voice rang out, and nature kept up its endless rhythm 
in apparent unison, only one person seemed incongruous. He stood at 
the back and to one side of the guests, staring intently through 
Polaroid glasses at the boy and girl. Lanky, clad in sweater and slacks, 


with both hands thrust in his trousers pockets, he was the only one 
wearing a hat, a black hat. 

"Funny character. Wonder who he is?" Jerome's father whispered 
to his wife. But the parents forgot about him momentarily, and no one 
else particularly noticed him as Father Jonathan's sermon reached its 
climax before the actual vows. 

". . . both are entering this mystery. And both are mirrors of 
nature's fullness — its womb, its fertility, its nurturing milk, its 
powerful seed, its supreme ecstasy, its nestling sleep, its mystery of 
oneness, and the long mysteries of the immortality it alone confers — if 
we are one with nature and participants in its sacrament of life and of 
death. As the perfect man, Jesus, our model, was." 

The man in the black hat stirred uneasily, leaning forward to catch 
every detail, all the while his eyes on the boy and the girl. 

Father Jonathan flung a smoldering gaze over the guests to his left. 
"Many have sought to rob him, our supreme example, of his human 
value for us." His voice throbbed with deep emotion. "To cap his 
glorious life with a weak, milk-and-water ending. What is all this 
dreadful chicanery of his supposed resurrection but a cheat? If he 
died, he died. Completely. Really. What sort of sacrifice and therefore 
what sort of love for us was there if he died to live again? Thus to rob 
the sacrifice of its very sting and its true glory and to rob him and us of 
all true human nobility — is not this the cruel joke of the happy ending 
they have attached to his heroic death? He, the supreme hero? Making 
a Grimm's fairy tale out of the greatest story ever told. 

"You, Jerome and Hilda," again looking at them with pride, "you 
will love his mystery of human unity; and, in time, like him, you will 
face death as he did, human, noble, and go back to nature, to be 
cemented into its eternal oneness where Jesus went with bowed head 
but triumphant." 

By now the man in the black hat had moved in front of the little 
crowd of guests. 

Jonathan launched into the marriage ceremony proper. "Look now, 
Hilda and Jerome, all nature is going to pause for one brief instant to 
witness your vows." A sweeping gesture took in all the scene, the 
crooked index finger jabbing oddly askew. "All things, the wind, the 
sun, the sea, the earth, all will stop in their ways ..." 

Jonathan broke off. He seemed to be having difficulty in drawing his 
breath. He gulped. His face flushed with the effort to continue. Then 
he managed to take up again, dictating word for word to Hilda. 


"With all my heart, 1 do take you ..." 

"With all my heart, I do take you," Hilda echoed in clear, confident 

"As my honored husband ..." 

"As my honored husband . . ." 

"Within the mystery of nature ..." 

"Within the mystery of nature . . ." 

"To have and to hold ..." 

"To have and to hold ..." 

"In life and in death ..." 

"In life and in death . . ." 

"As God's womb and pleasure ..." 

"As God's womb and pleasure . . ." 

"For the glory of our humanness . . ." 

"For the glory of our humanness . . ." 

"As Jesus before us . . ." 

"As Jesus before us . . ." 

"World of living and dead ..." 

"World of living and dead . . ." 



Hilda slipped the ring onto Jerome's finger. The guests stirred. Some 
had become unaccountably tense and could not take their eyes off 
Jonathan. Afterward, some remarked that it was as if a disfigurement 
had begun to show through in him. 

The man in the black hat, now in front of the dunes and apart from 
the crowd, still watched intently. 

Jerome looked at Jonathan and waited for the words of his vow to 
Hilda. Hilda's eyes were on Jerome. All nature, indeed, had seemingly 
stopped for her. For the first time she felt at one with life, with the 
world, with her own body. 

Jonathan was again struggling with some impediment. His body was 
stiff. His chest swelled. At last he was able to fill his lungs, and he 
started to dictate Jerome's words. 

"With this ring ..." 

"With this ring . . ." Jerome took up the words. 

"I do take you ..." 

"I do take you . . ." 

"As my dearly beloved wife ..." 

"As my dearly beloved wife . . ." 


"As you have given me . . ." 

"As you have given me ..." 

"The wonder and the mystery . . ." 

"The wonder and the mystery . . ." 

Jerome waited for the next line. But Jonathan was suddenly again 
almost purple with effort. His blue eyes were bulging now, showing 
large, terror-ridden whites. His hands, which had been folded across 
his chest solemnly, now were tensed by his sides, opening and shutting 
convulsively. He opened his mouth and rasped: "Of being one with 
nature . . ." 

"Of being one with nature ..." Jerome repeated. 

"And — and — and . . ." Jonathan stammered. 

Hilda's head turned in alarm. Jonathan's voice was climbing on each 
syllable toward hysteria. It seemed that every other sound had died 
out, as everyone hung on Jonathan's words. 

"And — of be-being one with Je-Jes-Jeeeesus" — Jonathan's voice 
broke into a screeching crescendo that split the air. "JESUS!" The 
name was a curse cracking on every ear. His face twisted into an 
ugliness that froze Hilda with horror. 

In a flash Jonathan was on top of Hilda, his outstretched arms 
catching her under the arms. Now, in his onrush, he was carrying her 
out bodily into the water, groaning and muttering wildly to himself. 
He pushed her head down, keeping her face beneath the surface and 
straddling her body as she kicked and struggled. 

The lightning speed of Jonathan's actions and their crazy incongru- 
ity had frozen everybody. For a split second they did not grasp what 
was happening. Then a woman screamed with the unmistakable, 
high-pitched warning of mortal danger. 

Within seconds half a dozen men ran and tore Jonathan's hands 
away from Hilda, struck him across the neck, lifted him off her, and 
threw him full length on the beach. He lay there thrashing and kicking 
for a moment, then went still. 

Jerome and Hilda's father lifted Hilda clear of the water; she was 
gasping for air and sobbing, her long dress trailing rivulets of sand and 
water. They laid her down on the high ground among the sand dunes, 
her head pillowed on her mother's lap. Gradually she recovered her 
breath, crying uncontrollably. Jerome knelt by her, dazed, his mouth 
open, his face utterly white, incapable of any word. 

Down on the beach, Jonathan lay fiat on the sand. He stirred and 
groaned, turning over on his side. Then, lifting himself up on one 


elbow, he clambered slowly and fitfully to his feet and swayed 
unsteadily. His back and side were caked with sand. The water still 
dripped from his long hair and his clothes. His eyes were bloodshot. 
His head was lowered. He blinked in the sunlight at the hard stares of 
the guests ranged around him. He was at bay. 

Nobody said anything at first. Then a sharp, metallic voice broke in, 
"If you will allow me, sir," addressing Hilda's father, "I am in charge 
here now, sir." The authority and confidence in that voice attracted all 
eyes to the speaker. It was the strange man, his black hat off now, 
revealing a lean, not quite youthful face full of lines, beneath a full 
head of gray hair tousled by the wind. He removed his sunglasses and 
with a limp came closer to Jonathan, looking steadily at him. Then he 
said quietly: "You and I have an important appointment now, Father 
Jonathan." He paused; then, with a fresh edge to his voice, "The 
sooner the better." The black hat was on his head again. He stretched 
out his hand to Jonathan. 

No one spoke. No one objected. Perhaps all were relieved that 
someone was taking over. 

The man spoke again. "The sun will be high in a couple of hours. 
We have work to do that will not wait. Come!" 

Jonathan blinked for a moment. Then shakily he put the hand with 
the crooked finger into the other man's open palm. They turned their 
backs on the sea. Hand in hand, Jonathan stumbling and swaying, the 
other man limping, they walked up over the dunes and across to the 
dirt road where the cars were parked, and stopped by a station wagon. 

They stood there for a moment. The guests could see the man 
talking to Jonathan. Jonathan, half-bent and leaning on the door 
handle of the station wagon, was listening, his head bowed. He nodded 
violently. Then they both got in. 

As the car moved off and the sound died away, someone spoke for 
the first time. "Who was that?" 

Hilda's father, his eyes filled with tears, watched the station wagon 
as it disappeared down the road. "Father David," he muttered. 
"Father David M. Everything is going to be all right now." He shook 
his head, as if freeing his mind from an uncomfortable thought. "He 
was right all along." 



At the time he led Jonathan stumbling away from the aborted seashore 
marriage in 1970, Father David M. (''Bones," as his students liked to 
call him) was a forty-eight-year-old priest, member of an East Coast 
diocese, professor of anthropology at a major seminary, and official 
exorcist for his diocese. He had already conducted four exorcisms 
himself and he had been assistant at five others. The first had been in 
Paris, where he had been assistant to an older priest; the others had 
been in his home diocese. 

When David M. started his professional life as an anthropologist in 
1956, he could not have dreamed that within ten years his knowledge 
of anthropology and his enthusiasm for prehistory would be the major 
reasons for his role as exorcist and later for his involvement in the 
bizarre case of Father Jonathan. Nor could he have dreamed even in 
that March of 1970, as the exorcism began, that it would lead him, 
first, to the most harrowing personal crisis of his life, and then to 
abandon anthropology as a study and a profession. 

When David was born in Coos, New Hampshire's northernmost 
county, in 1922, the state, with a population of nearly half a million, 
was still a rustic farming community, very far removed from the 
sophisticated centers south in Boston and New York. Coos County in 
particular was still permeated with the Yankee traditions of hard work, 
thrift, sobriety; and it hearkened to the preaching of the evils of 
alcohol, the wisdom of paying cash for what you bought, of 
self-reliance, individual responsibility, and — as rock-bottom founda- 
tion of right living — the infallible, all-sufficient guidance and enlight- 
enment of the Bible. Even today, when the central and southern tiers 
of the state have suffered from the malice of change, the land itself still 
carries for the mind the atmosphere of an ancient and undisturbed 
kingdom. In mountain, lake, cliff, and forest there is a repose as 
awesome as the naked weight of the Himalayas and the volcanic face 
of the Sinai Mountains. 

David M. was the only child born of affluent Yankee Roman 
Catholic parents on both sides. He spent his early years on his father's 
farm, occasionally visiting the nearby town and, once in a while, 
traveling down to Portsmouth with his parents for a brief vacation. 

The most abiding images David has of the world in his youth are of 


lakes, mountains, forests, cliffs, rock formations, valleys shaded by 
trees and crags, and the great, still stretches of land that surrounded 
his home. His ears still retain the harmonies riding in the place names 
of his home ground — Ammonoosuc River, Saco River, Franconia 
range, Merrimack Valley, and the lingering magic of Lake Winni- 
pesaukee, whose 20 miles of length were clad in foliage, and the names 
of whose 274 islands he once learned to repeat by heart. 

The Roman Catholicism of his parents was of a conservative kind 
and an intimate part of daily life. Both parents had been to college; his 
father had studied in Cambridge, England. Both had traveled in 
Europe. And their home was centered around the library and its large 
open fireplace, where they gathered after meals and where David 
spent long hours browsing through his parents' books. 

Many of David's relatives lived in the surrounding countryside. His 
playmates were normally his cousins. His earliest memories of any 
intellectual awakening he traces to the influence of an uncle who, 
having taught history in Boston for 37 years, finally retired to live on 
the farm with his brother and sister-in-law, David's parents. 

Old Edward, as they called him, personified for David the stability 
and permanence of his home; and he deeply influenced David's mental 
development. Edward spent most of his days reading. He stirred out of 
the house ritually twice a day; once, in the morning, to walk around 
the farm — rain, hail, or snow; a second time, after dinner, when he 
walked up and down in the shade of a little copse at the west end of 
the house, smoking his pipe and talking to himself. 

David remembers going with Old Edward again and again to view 
the Creat Stone Face, ''The Old Man of the Mountain,'' high up on its 
perch above Franconia Notch. "No one knows how it came there, 
son," Edward used to remark. "It just happened. Man emerging from 
raw nature." It became a symbol in David's mind, and a preview of 
how he later came to think of man's origin. 

Whenever David and his Uncle Edward visited the Great Stone 
Face, the ritual was always the same. Once in view of the "Old Man," 
they would sit down and eat lunch over a fire. Afterward, Edward 
would light his pipe and, staring at the pockmarked profile, start 
dawdling through the same conversational piece. 

"Now, lad! Who do you think made it?" 

"It just seems to come out of the earth and rock, sir," would be 
David's reply. 

Sometimes Edward would bring a work of his favorite author, 


Nathaniel Hawthorne. Having read an episode to David, he would 
discuss it with his nephew. The Scarlet Letter was his most frequent 

"Why did Arthur die on the scaffold, lad, and with a smile on his 
lips?" he would ask. 

After a while, David knew the expected answer: "Because, sir, he 
knew he had to pay for his sins." 

And then: "Why did he sin, lad?" 

"Because of Adam's Original Sin, sir," would be David's answer. 

Once David ventured a question himself. "Why did Hester put the 
scarlet letter back again in her dress pocket, if it was a bad letter, sir?" 
The answer came with unerring relish: "She wanted to be romantic, 
lad. Romantic. That's what they called it." It was David's first 
introduction to romanticism, an issue that took very tangible and 
painful form for him later on. The evil spirit he exorcised in Jonathan 
had possessed Jonathan under the guise of pure romanticism. 

When David was fourteen, he was sent to a prep school in New 
England but his vacations were all spent on the family farm in Coos 
County. His uncle still lived there; and together they went on several 
trips to New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, and Montreal. 

It was, however, a trip to Salem, Massachusetts — made at his own 
request — that became of prime importance in David's mind. He was 
sixteen then. His uncle wanted to see the John Turner house, which 
had been immortalized by Hawthorne in The House of the Seven 
Gables. But David had been delving into a copy of Cotton Mather's 
Ecclesiastical History of New England that he had found in his father's 
library; and he was more interested in people such as Elizabeth 
Knapp, Anne Hibbins, Ann Cole, and other "witches" and "warlocks" 
of seventeenth-century Salem. So when they had visited the Peabody 
Museum and the Turner house, they spent an hour and a half in the 
"witch house" where Judge Corwin had examined the 19 men and 
women condemned and executed for witchcraft in 1692. 

David realized later that his stay in and around the "witch house" 
had a special significance. As they moved around inside and outside 
the house, his uncle provided him with a running commentary on the 
1692 trials. 

All the while, David had a striking but not uncomfortable sensation 
or instinct that "invisible eyes," as he put it then to his uncle, or 
"spirits," as he puts it now, were present to him and communicating in 
an odd way. They seemed to be asking something. It was as if one part 


of his mind listened and recorded his uncle's commentary and the 
sights around him, while another part was preoccupied with other, 
intangible "words" and "sights.'' 

Striking as the experience was at the time, it did not in any way 
obsess his thoughts in ensuing years. In fact, he never vividly recalled 
this Salem experience until 32 years later at Old Edward's death and 
again during the exorcism of Father Jonathan. 

No one in David's circle of family and friends was surprised when 
he decided to enter the seminary in 1940. His father would have 
preferred an Army career for him; his mother had nourished a secret 
hope of grandchildren. But David had made up his mind. 

After seven years, when he was ordained in 1947 at the age of 
twenty-five, the bishop asked whether he would be willing to go 
through some extra years of study. The diocese needed a professor of 
anthropology and ancient history. If he agreed, he would first earn a 
doctorate in theology: Roman authorities were chary of letting any 
young cleric loose in scientific fields without a special grounding in 
doctrine. It might not be easy or pleasant, because Rome did not think 
highly of American theologates. The whole program would take about 
seven more years of David's life. 

In spite of the possible difficulties, David consented. The following 
autumn he started to follow theological courses in Rome; and then, in 
the autumn of 1950, he proceeded to the Sorbonne in Paris. 

Like many others of that time, he had heard much about a French 
Jesuit named Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, but he had never been 
exposed to his thought. In Paris he fell under the direct influence of 
the ideas which Teilhard had generated. For postwar Catholic 
intellectuals, Teilhard was something of a phenomenon; and from the 
mid-1950s and on he enjoyed the reputation of a twentieth-century 
Aquinas, and evoked the type of personal devotion that only a 
Bonaventure and a Ramon Llul had attracted in earlier centuries. 

French of the French, intellectual, ascetic, World War I hero, 
brilliant student, innovative teacher, mystic, discoverer of Pekin Man 
(Sinanthropos), pioneer excavator in Sinkiang, the Gobi Desert, 
Burma, Java, Kashmir, South Africa, Teilhard set out to make it 
intellectually possible for a Christian to accept the theories of 
Darwinian evolution and still retain his religious faith. 

All matter, said Teilhard, is and always has been transfused with 


"consciousness," however primitive. Through billions of years and 
through all the forms of chemical substance, plant, animal, and finally 
human life, this "consciousness" had blossomed. It is still blossoming; 
and now, in this final stage of its development, it is about to burst forth 
in a final culmination: the Omega Point, when all humans and all 
matter will be elevated to a unity only dreamed by the visionaries and 
saints of the past. The key character of the Omega Point will be Jesus, 
asserted Teilhard. And so all will be gathered into all, and all will be 
one in the love and permanent being of achieved salvation. 

By 1950, when David arrived in Paris, Teilhard and his doctrines 
had become too much for the Roman authorities with their long 
memories. Teilhard's critical eyes, his ready flow of language, his 
Gallic logic, his constant ability to answer inquisitorial questions with 
a flood of professional and technical details, his refusal to kowtow 
intellectually, and his very daring attempt to synthesize modern 
science with the ancient faith — all this frightened ecclesiastical minds. 
It was not only Teilhard's aquiline nose that reminded the authorities 
of his eighteenth-century ancestor, Descartes, whose ideas they still 
considered anathema. It was as well, and chiefly, Teilhard's attempt to 
rationalize the mysteries of Catholic belief, to "scientize" the Divine 
and make the truths of revelation totally explicable in terms of test 
tubes and fossil remains. 

Teilhard: dedicated to the "clear and distinct ideas" of Descartes, 
the father of all modern scientific reasoning; fired inwardly by the 
personal ideals of Ignatius, father not only of all Jesuits but of all the 
lone and the brave; lured onward by the mystical darkness of wisdom 
celebrated by his favorite author, John of the Cross, whose pains he 
shared but whose ecstasy ever escaped him; honed and refined in 
intellect by the best scientific training of his day; Teilhard was the 
custom-built answer, the ready-made darling for the bankrupt Catho- 
lic intellectuals of his century and for thousands of Protestants caught 
in the heel of the hunt by the vicious clamps of that merciless reason 
they had championed as man's glory some four centuries previously. 
Teilhard was, at one and the same time, their trailblazer and their 
martyred hero. For the tired and besieged French and Belgians he 
produced shining shibboleths to cry and a new pride to wear. He 
fanned into a blaze the cold fire that slowly burned in the brains of 
innovation-hungry Dutch and Germans. He nourished the ever-latent 
emotionalism of Anglican divines, who by then were floating free of 
traditional shackles. 


His new terminology (he was the author of many current neolo- 
gisms), his daring thought, his scientific panoply, his international 
reputation, his refusal to revolt when silenced by chicanery, his long 
vigil, his obscure death, and finally the flashing wonder of his 
posthumous fame and publication, all this conferred on him, on his 
name, and on his ideas the efficacy once enjoyed by a Joan of Arc, a 
Francis Xavier, and a Sinione Weil. When Rome would never 
canonize him, he was canonized by a new 'Voice of the people." He 
was a marvelous source of esoteric words and intricate thoughts for 
American pop theologians. 

Very few realized that Teilhard's vision had ceased long before his 
death. He had provided Christians with only a respite between the 
long autumn of the nineteenth century and the winter that enshrouded 
everything in the late twentieth century. Teilhard was neither strong 
food to satisfy real hunger nor heavenly manna for a new Pentecost. 
He was merely a stirrup cup of heady wine. 

Under Pius XII, the Roman Catholic Church of the post- World War 
II period was being constantly purged of "dangerous ideas." And 
Teilhard fell foul of the censors. He was silenced and exiled, forbidden 
to publish or lecture. Nevertheless, his ideas ran through the 
intellectual milieu of Europe and America like mercury. David with 
many others drank deeply of this wine of ideas and believed that they 
were on their way to a new dawn. 

Of course, David knew from the start that he was destined for 
anthropology later on. Therefore, in Rome he concentrated on those 
theological questions which had a direct bearing on anthropology. He 
studied, in particular, the divine creation of the material world and of 
man, the Adam and Eve doctrine and that of Original Sin. He found 
that Church teaching was explicit: God had created the world, if not 
exactly in seven days, at least directly and out of nothing. There had 
been a first man, Adam, and a first woman, Eve. Both had sinned. 
Because of their sin, all other men and women — for all men and 
women who ever existed were descended from Adam and Eve — were 
deprived of a divine quality called grace. They were born with 
Original Sin. And this condition was only changed by the sacrament of 

David was troubled that doctrines stated in this way, even including 
all the refinements and modifications allowed, were extremely difficult 


to explain in the light of the theories of paleontology current in his 
time. And the greater the impact of science on the mind, the more 
dramatic the difficulty. 

When the full weight of anthropological and cross-cultural studies 
was brought to bear on the question of human origins, a human being 
seemed to have a long and remote ancestry during which not merely 
his body was formed but what was called his mind and higher instincts 
were fashioned. And, of course, if you once admitted these beliefs and 
assumptions of "scientific" theory to be "facts," or even highly 
probable, the idea of God creating the human condition and sending 
his son, Jesus, to save it from its dire predicament, this central theme 
of all Christianity was up for auction to the highest bidder. 

The genius of Teilhard was that his bid was as high as that of any 
non-Catholic or non-Christian in the field, to construct a bridge across 
such an impassable and impossible gap. And it was in view of this 
promise that David, along with a whole generation of men and 
women, adopted Teilhard's formulation. 

But the fatal flaw was quick and sure. The creating god of Christians 
was no longer taken as divine. He became internal to the world in a 
mysterious and essential way. Jesus, as savior, was no longer the 
conquering hero irrupting into the human universe and standing 
history on its head. He was reduced to the peak of that universe's 
evolution, as natural an element in the universe as amino acids. The 
thrust that would finally bring forth Jesus in the sight of all men was an 
evolutionary accident — a kind of cosmic joke — that started over five 
billion years ago in helium, hydrogen gases, and amino acids of protean 
space. That thrust had no choice but to keep on thrusting until it gave 
birth to the refined and culminating flower of "full human conscious- 
ness" in the "latter days." 

Like the Great Stone Face on Franconia Notch that David 
remembered so vividly from his visits with his uncle, Jesus now simply 
emerged from nature. The Omega Point. Only this would be the final 
hour of glory, the Last Day. 

Neither David nor many others who spoke of the "greatest 
biological adventure of all time" — meaning human history — were 
alerted to the fact that, once the ancient beliefs of Christianity were 
interpreted in this fashion, it was a matter of time before other 
fundamental issues were affected, and very hard-nosed conclusions 
would have to be drawn. But present euphoria often beclouds later 

q6 the cases 

issues. Intellectual freedom has its own chains, its own brand of 
myopia. And a triumph of mere logic seems always to carry with it a 
neglect both of the human and of the essence of spirit. 

In this ferment, David's mentality matured. 

From those years spent in doctoral studies, David has two deeply 
personal memories. Both took place on the occasion of his Uncle 
Edward's death. It was during David's second last year at the 
Sorbonne that the old man, in his eighties by then, started to die. 
David had just arrived back in Paris from a field trip in southern 
France when he received a telegram from his father: Old Edward had 
not much time; he had asked for David repeatedly. 

David caught a flight that evening. By the following evening he was 
back in Coos County on the family farm. Edward was sinking 
gradually, coming out of semicomatose states and lapsing back again. 

Toward midnight of David's second day at home, he was sitting in 
Edward's room reading. His family had retired for the night. The 
room's only light came from the reading lamp on the desk where 
David sat. Outside all was quiet. A late wind sighed softly in the trees. 
Occasionally a very distant cry would echo from the surrounding 

At a certain moment David raised his head and looked at Edward. 
He thought he had heard the sound of a voice. But the old man was 
lying still, breathing with difficulty. David went over, dipped a hand 
towel in a bowl of water, and mopped the perspiration from Edward's 
forehead. He was about to return to his chair when he again heard, or 
thought he heard, a voice — or voices — he was not sure. He looked at 
Edward: he was unchanged. Then he lifted his head and listened. 

If he had not known better, he would have sworn that about half a 
dozen people were talking with low voices in the next room. But he 
knew that, except for his parents and one house woman, he was alone 
with Edward in the house. 

Edward stirred uneasily and drew in a few quick breaths. His 
eyelids fluttered for a moment. He opened them slowly. His gaze 
traveled across the ceiling to the far corner of the room, then back 
again to David. "Can I help you, sir?" David asked. He had never 
addressed Edward in any other way. Edward gave a characteristic 
shake of his head which David knew so well from the past. 

Almost immediately Edward went into a short death agony, inhaling 
long, deep breaths, exhaling laboriously, heaving his chest, and 


groaning. David pressed the bell to call his parents, knelt down bv the 
head of the bed, and started to pray in a whisper. 

But a motion of the old man's finger stopped him. Edward was 
trying to say something. David bent his ear down close to the dying 
man's month. He could barely hear the breathed syllables: 
". . . prayed for them ... I prayed for them . . . coming to take me 
home . . . you did not . . . lad . . . home . . . you did not . . . 
home . . ." 

Those voices, David thought. Those voices. Men and women. When 
had he been with Edward and others when Edward had prayed for 
those others and he had not? Why would they need prayers? He could 
not get it out of his head that Edward had been talking about their 
visit to Salem. He did not see any connection. But he could not rid 
himself of the idea. 

Edward expelled one long breath. His lips moved and twisted 
slightly. David heard a faint rattle in his throat. Then he found himself 
alone in that long, deadening, unbroken quiet when the dying is done. 
Edward's eyes opened to the glassy sightlessness of a dead man's look. 

After they buried Old Edward, David stayed for a couple of days; 
then he went down to New York. He had one or two errands to do in 
the city, and he had a chance to meet Teilhard de Chardin. He 
brought with him a copy of Teilhard 's he Milieu Divin in the hope of 
an autograph. 

The meeting with the French Jesuit was brief and poignant for 
David. The mutual friend who arranged the meeting warned David as 
they drove to meet Teilhard that the old man had not been well lately. 
"Let's make the visit brief. Okay?" 

Teilhard was much thinner than David had expected. He greeted 
David affably but crisply in French, chatted for a few minutes about 
David's career as an anthropologist, then took the copy of his book 
from David's hands and looked at it pensively. As if making up his 
mind on the spur of the moment, he took a pen from his pocket and 
wrote some words on the flyleaf, closed the book, handed it back, and 
glanced at David. Teilhard's lips were pursed characteristically, his 
head slightly bent to one side and forward. 

David noticed the strength of Teilhard's chin. But, much more, it 
was the expression in Teilhard's eyes that imprinted itself on David's 
memory. David had expected to see the long, deep look of a man who 
had traveled very far and thought very steeply of the deepest issues in 


life. Instead, looking at him across the humped curve of that aquiline 
nose, Teilhard's eyes were very wide open. They had no hint in them 
of memories or reflections, no remnants of Teilhard's own storms. 
There were no traces of any glinting intelligence. The old paleontol- 
ogist was completely with David, totally present to him, taking in 
David's own glance with a personable expression and a direct 
simplicity that almost embarrassed the younger man. 

After a few seconds, the older man said: "You will be true. You will 
be true, Father. Search for the spirit. But, even if all else goes, give 
hope. Hope." 

Their looks held together for a moment more. Then they parted. 
Returning to the center of the city, David remarked to the friend who 
was driving: "Why in the end, or how in the end, did it become so 
simple for him?" His friend had no answer for him. 

Suddenly, David remembered: what had Teilhard written on the 
flyleaf of his book? He opened it. Teilhard's dedication ran: "They said 
I opened Pandora's Box with this book. But, they did not notice, Hope 
was still hiding in one of its corners." 

David was bothered for weeks after that meeting by a nagging idea 
that hope had become difficult for the seventy- three-year-old Jesuit. 
But after his return to Paris for the remainder of his courses at the 
Sorbonne, the sharpness of the incident faded temporarily to the back 
of his memory. 

By the time David returned to the United States in June 1955, 
Teilhard had been dead for over two months. 

When he did return to the United States, few of David's former 
associates and acquaintances could recognize the new intellectual man 
he had become. He was thirty-four by then, in robust physical 
condition. His six-foot frame w T as lean and well muscled. His friends 
did notice the premature grayness, the faint but definite lines of 
maturity around his mouth, the disappearance from his face of that 
youthful ebullience with which he had been clothed five years before 
when he set out for Europe. 

Another look had replaced the ebullience: it was a certain 
"definitiveness," as one friend described it. David's eyes were fuller in 
meaning. He spoke just as pleasantly as before, but less casually and 
with an emphasis that conveyed more meaning than ever before. 
When he talked of deep matters, those around him felt that what he 
thought and said came from an inner wealth of experience and 
resources gathered carefully, marshaled in harmony, and kept bright 


and burnished for use. He had the "finished" look. And more than one 
elder colleague remarked, "One day, he'll be the bishop." 

Before starting his lectures at the seminary, David spent one extra 
year in private study, visiting museums, and traveling to various parts 
of the world where paleontologists were working in the field. This 
extra year was invaluable to him; he had time to reflect on the 
condition of research, to catch up on his reading, to acquaint himself 
with professional colleagues in the field, and to examine the various 
diggings firsthand. Then, in mid-September 1956, he arrived home to 
Coos County for two weeks' vacation on the farm with his parents. 
The following October he started giving his first courses at the 

The next nine years of his life passed uneventfully. From the 
beginning he was popular and highly thought of. The students 
conferred on him the nickname of "Bones" because of the fossils he 
kept in glass cases in his study. 

In May 1965, he was again staying in Paris, attending an interna- 
tional convention. During the three weeks he was there, he was asked 
one evening by an old friend, a parish priest from a northern French 
diocese, to help out as a substitute assistant at the exorcism of a 
fifty-year-old man. 

David had very little knowledge of Exorcism. Indeed, from his 
anthropological studies he was inclined to regard Exorcism as a 
remnant of past superstition and ignorance. Like any well-indoctri- 
nated anthropologist, he could parallel the Roman Catholic Exorcism 
rite with scores of similar rites from Africa to Oceania and throughout 

"No, Father David," the parish priest had answered him amicably 
when David had let the old man know that in his opinion Exorcism 
and satanic possession belonged to the world of invented myth and 
fable. "No, Father. This is not the way it is. Myths are never made. 
They are born out of countless generations. They embody an instinct, a 
deep community feeling. Fables are made as containers, fashioned by 
men deliberately to preserve the lessons they have learned. But 
this — satanic possession, Exorcism — well! come and see for yourself. 
At any rate, help me out." 

In this exorcism David was substituting for a young priest who had 
fallen ill in the course of the rite. The exorcism had already lasted 
about 30 hours. "Just another couple of hours, and it is the end," the 
old parish priest had told him before beginning. 


In fact, by the time David entered the case, the worst was over. 
After only two and a half hours more, the parish priest was about to 
complete the exorcism and expel the evil spirit. He asked David to 
hand him the holy-water flask and the crucifix. 

At that point, and without warning, the possessed man became 
rigid. He screamed and jeered: "If you take it from him, Priest, we 
needn't leave. He has too many enemies. We needn't leave! He didn't 
help them when they asked him. We won't leave! We needn't leave!" 
Then a hideous, raucous laughter cackled at them all. The possessed 
man pointed a fine finger at David. "Hah-hah! Burnt. And he didn't 
pray for them . . . Father of hopelessness! Hah-ha!" 

David's nerves were jangled. The parish priest took the crucifix and 
the holy-water flask himself and concluded the exorcism successfully. 
Afterward, he had a short chat with David. He calmed the young man, 
but added: "You have a problem. I don't know your life. I am sure 
God will solve it at home for you." 

Back in his own diocese, David had a heart-to-heart talk with his 
bishop, who remarked on the change in David: no longer the 
self-confident, sometimes cocksure, always rather inaccessible intellec- 
tual he had known, David was now questioning and searching for 
internal peace, working through some puzzle he could not verbalize 
but which he felt entangling him. 

David talked on, telling the bishop about the Paris exorcism and 
about his meeting with Teilhard years before. 

"Well, have you some serious doubts about your orthodoxy as an 
anthropologist?" asked the bishop after a time. "Or rather, perhaps, I 
should phrase the question differently. Do you feel that the exorcism 
experience has opened something in you, some deficiency perhaps, 
which your anthropology and your intellectualism were only harden- 
ing and making permanent?" 

"I honestly don't know," David answered. "There is the death of 
Old Edward. Why did I take his last words so seriously? I know they 
meant something personal to me. But I don't know exactly what." 

"Look, David," the bishop finally said, "I will put you in touch with 
Father G., the diocesan exorcist. He has very little work, thank God. 
But he can help you one way or another — at least as far as the puzzle 
of that exorcism goes." 

Father G. turned out to be a breezy character full of snappy little 
phrases and quick, jerky movements. "Okay, Father David, okay," was 
his comment on David's story. "You have a problem. I have no 


solution for problems except action. I'm not an intellectual. I failed 
every exam they gave me. But they needed priests in the diocese so 
they let me through. I can say a valid Mass and baptize babies at any 
rate, even if my Latin is awful. And I am a good exorcist. The next 
time we have a case of possession, 111 put you in the picture. Only 
concrete participation in this matter will help you." 

True to his word, Father G. took David as his assistant exorcist in 
two cases of possession the following year. Both were relatively 
uneventful; at any rate, nothing personal to David occurred in either 
of them. David, however, underwent a continuing change within 
himself in the succeeding two years. His experience with the possessed 
man in Paris and with the two exorcisms at home had convinced him 
that, whatever was at stake in possession and exorcism, it was not a 
question either of myth or fable, or of mental illness. In addition, he 
had to keep struggling to make sense of his personal history, He kept 
stringing a few facts together, trying to make sense out of them. 

There was, first of all, the dying conversation of his Uncle Edward 
about praying for "them" and their going "home," and David's own 
failure to pray for "them." Then there was Teilhard's "give hope" and 
his words on the flyleaf of the book. And, finally, there were the 
jeering words of the fifty-year-old man in Paris. On the face of it, he 
could not understand any of these things, and there seemed to be very 
little connection between them all. Yet David felt sure there was a 
connection, if he could only perceive it. 

During a few vacations at home on the farm, he walked down to the 
cemetery where Edward was buried. He sat in the old man's bedroom. 
He hiked over to stand in the same place Edward and he had so often 
visited, and stood in full view of the "Old Man" of Franconia Notch. 
Once or twice after dinner, he strolled up and down the copse at the 
west end of the house and thought about Edward. He always felt calm 
and peaceful in that copse but could not understand why. 

David's mother, who was always very close to her son and his 
moods, said briefly to him as he was departing for the seminary after 
one of those home visits: "David, some things take time. Time. Only 
time can help. Be patient. With yourself, I mean. And with whatever it 
is that is bothering you. Remember how many years it took Edward to 
arrive at his own peace." 

David was grateful for these words and felt consoled. It was some 
sort of special message for him. But, again, there was the perplexing 
character of it: the consolation and the "message" character of her 


words yielded to no rational explanation. Just as the effect of the copse 
on him, or the significance of Edward's last words, or what precisely 
the possessed man in Paris had conveyed to him, or the strangeness he 
had discovered in Teilhard. The point was none of his knowledge and 
scholarship seemed to be of avail. The meanings of all these incidents 
seemed to flow from some source other than his intellect; they were 
foreign to his knowledge and his learning. And this disturbed him. 

His students began to notice that the tone and, in part, the content 
of David's lectures changed. He was still as unrelenting as ever in his 
probings of traditional doctrines in the light of modern scientific 
findings. And he excused in no way traditional presentations of 
doctrines about creation and Original Sin. 

But a new element caught their attention. "Bones" returned again 
and again to the data of anthropology and paleontology with phrases 
they had not heard him use before. "As long as we measure this solely 
with our rulers and our logical reasoning, we will find no cause for 
hope," he might say. Or: "In addition to the scientist's eye and the 
theologian's subtleties, we must have an eye for spirit." Once he ended 
a lecture on burial cults in Africa saying, in effect: "But even if you 
analyze all these data theologically and rationally, you have to be 
careful. You can do all that faithfully, and yet pass blindly by the one 
trace of spirit present in the situation." There seemed to be a note of 
regret in his tone at such moments. 

Very few people — and this included his students, who generally got 
to know their professors intimately — very few knew that by this time 
David had been appointed diocesan exorcist. Father G. had been 
severely injured in an automobile accident and would never walk 

David did not take his new post lightly. In his interview with the 
bishop when he accepted the post, he tried to get across a curious 
foreboding to his bishop. "I am changing," he said. "I mean I am 
slowly coming to a deep, very deep realization about what I have 
become over the years. It isn't that I have gruesome problems. Rather, 
it's as if I had neglected something vital and the time is coming when I 
will have to face it. Exorcisms have the effect of making this need 
more acute," he told the bishop. 

"You, Father David, can never stop being useful to the diocese," 
was the bishop's remark. 

"No. Of course not. That is, I hope not. But—" David broke off and 
looked past the bishop. He had the vaguest premonition. If only he 


could lie it down in words. "It may be, Bishop, that at the end of a 
couple of years . . ." He broke off again and stared out the window. 
Vaguely he saw the faces of two choices rising up. Yet they made no 
sense to him. He turned and looked at the bishop. "It may be that I 
will resign from my teaching job at the seminary." 

"Let's take a chance on that," the bishop answered pleasantly, 


For three weeks in November 1967, David was on leave from the 
seminary. He was in New York dealing with the strange case of one of 
his own students, Father Jonathan, born Yves L. in Manchester, New 
Hampshire. By the time of his excommunication from the Roman 
Catholic Church, Yves had changed his name. He was fourteen years 
younger than Father David. Like David, he came from an affluent 
home and, for all practical purposes, was an only child. 

Yves' father, Romain, was Catholic, French Canadian, originally 
from Montreal, and a doctor by profession. His mother, Sybil, a 
convert to Catholicism, was of Swedish parentage. Her first marriage, 
a childless one, had ended when she was twenty-seven years old, in the 
suicide of her husband. 

Sybil was over forty and Romain was fifty-two years old when Yves 
was born. He had one half-brother, Pierre, by his father's previous 
marriage in Canada. Pierre's mother had died giving birth to him. 
When Yves was born, Pierre was twenty-eight, married, with children 
of his own, and living in New Jersey. 

Before her first marriage, Sybil had taught in a private Swiss school. 
She had been educated at the University of Heidelberg, Germany, and 
had a doctorate in philosophy. She emigrated to Canada with her 
parents in the early 1930s. Yves' good looks obviously reflected his 
Swedish ancestry and particularly his mother's Nordic beauty. 

His childhood was a happy one. Relations and friends who knew all 
three over many years always remembered how united they were as a 
family, though some remember the house as too adult and mind- 
oriented for a little boy. Under his mother's influence in particular, by 
the age of nine Yves was reading voraciously; and seven years later, at 
the year-end examinations, he astounded his school examiners by his 
detailed knowledge of English and American literature. 


Yves' mother had a smoldering personality; she always conveyed the 
impression of deep and somber experiences within her. As with many 
converts, she was more Catholic than the Catholics themselves. 

His father's religion was of a more popular and instinctual kind. His 
youth had been spent in northwest Canada. Later, David was to find 
out that the earliest images retained by Yves' father were more or less 
like David's own: of rugged nature, gargantuan proportions of sky and 
mountain and water, unbeatable and often cruel forces in the snow, 
the storm, the wind, and the inhospitable soil. 

Yves' parents always remained devoted to one another, but sexual 
expression of that love stopped when Sybil underwent a hysterectomy 
after Yves' birth. Apparently a deep feeling of being wounded or 
deficient in her femininity took hold of her. 

Romain, on the other hand, entered a religious crisis of acute pain 
during his wife's pregnancy. Partly because his wife's life was 
endangered by the pregnancy, and partly due to a fleeting affair he 
had during that time, he developed a constant fear that, because of the 
sins of his earlier years and the affair during his wife's pregnancy, he 
would lose his faith, die an unbeliever, and suffer the loss of eternal life 
in Heaven. 

Yves never noticed any sign of his father's agonizing scrupulousness; 
and he did not realize until much later in life that the marital love of 
his parents had cooled very early in his childhood. Both parents were 
outwardly very loving in every way. 

By the time Yves reached his teens, Sybil had become a kind, 
intelligent, and healthy woman. While no longer attached to what she 
called the mechanisms of sexuality, she was very aware of her love and 
sensuality, very graceful in her life, creative, but beyond ambition. 
Romain was a doctor known for his devotion and skill as well as for his 
sense of community duty. Father and mother had an unwritten pact of 
close companionship and intimate care for each other. It created a 
personal world of utter trust and undisturbed peace. 

All in all, the atmosphere in which Yves grew up and in which he 
felt secure was an adult one permeated by values he felt more than he 
understood. Home life was inspired by sentiments he perceived and 
reproduced but which did not deeply express his own tastes and 
inclinations. Life with Sybil and Romain gravitated around unseen 
things that the immature Yves knew best by intuition but could not 
identify. There was an integrity of person and a graceful style in their 


living. There was strength of love and a solidity of judgment. But the 
viewpoint was narrow, too narrow. 

Within that family Yves' values and personal ties — his parents, his 
school, his parish ambient, his friends — were held in place by solid 
moorings. He went to parish schools until he was eighteen. In ret- 
rospect, and as far as anyone can remember, there was no dif- 
ference between him and the other boys of his acquaintance. He was 
excellent at sports and a very good dancer; he dated local girls, and 
moonlighted with another boy until they had put enough money 
together to buy a secondhand car. 

He had only a few serious scrapes with the school authorities. It was 
never a matter of study — at that he was consistently beyond reproach. 
But now and then Yves would turn on one of his teachers in full view 
of the class in a fit of verbal abuse and uncontrollable rage. 

He was always apologetic later, and his obviously sincere regret and 
winning smile generally had their effect; the school authorities forgave 
him easily. It probably did not hurt that his father was quite a 
prominent citizen, and that his mother was an active member of the 
parish, and that Yves won a state prize every year for his English essay, 
thus bringing honor to the school. He had a way with words and a 
touch of the poet that was beyond the ordinary. It helped him in his 
studies and in his scrapes. 

By sixteen, Yves was an amateur painter, was writing poems to 
commemorate events at school and at home, was chosen to be his class 
valedictorian, and genuinely loved literature. By the time he was 
seventeen, he had decided to become a priest. 

A final school essay written by Yves at the end of his last year reads 
today like a terrible prediction. In a precocious study of Shelley, Yves 
wrote: "But with all this beauty, no one can say what it would have 
done to the poet and the man had he lived beyond the age of thirty. 
Shelley pioneered a fresh idea of godliness. But it might — we will 
never know — have been a trap sprung by Job's Satan or Dante's 
Devil." Yves carried the essay around with him for many years, 
because he felt that in writing it he had perceived something very 

He owed his decision to become a priest largely to his parents' 
influence. Priesthood had been his father's first ambition in life; and he 
transmitted this frustrated wish to his son — not as a command or an 
obligation, but as an ideal. Yves knew from the age of seven that, in his 


father's eyes, the priesthood was the best, the highest, the most 
honorable profession. This is what his father conveyed by look, word, 
and attitude. His mother's influence was not so positive. It was more 
that, by looking down on any other occupation as secondary, she 
highlighted priesthood as the ideal and the goal. 

The seminary Yves attended was the same one to which two years 
later Father David M. was posted. Yves was one of many seminarians 
and did not arouse any particular attention on David's part. His studies 
were, as usual, excellent. He had a very fine voice for chanting. He cut 
an impressive figure in ceremonial robes: over six feet in height, 
blond-haired, blue-eyed, with hands that were both masculine and 
beautiful. He was marked by a winsome grace and symmetry of 
movement; and, above all, he possessed a pair of eyes that radiated a 
striking luminosity and that had an almost hypnotic effect on people 
around him. 

For all these reasons, Yves was the ideal actor in the liturgist's 
manual and the type for which every preacher's handbook was 
written. His knowledge of English and his good writing style helped 
him in the practice sermons he composed and delivered at the 

In view of these talents, his interest in art and poetry was forgiven. 
In the atmosphere of any seminary during the 1950s, there was always 
a general suspicion of anyone interested in painting and literature — 
especially poetry. Roman Catholicism of that time regarded such 
things as * "dangerous." The Church always had had difficulty in 
governing poets and painters; they sometimes were unwelcome 
prophets and discomforting commentators. 

But Yves used his gifts well. He kept within the seminary mentality. 
He was careful, always careful. 

One incident during his seminary years did disturb the authorities 
briefly. It was 1961. As always with Yves, he quickly overcame it. The 
occasion was Yves' final theological examinations, oral ones, conducted 
by three of his professors and presided over by a fourth, who would, if 
necessary, step in to arbitrate a dispute or cast a deciding vote in the 
assigning of grades. Generally, the moderator — as the fourth member 
of the examining board was called — had no part in the examinations 
and used the time to read a book or catch up with his correspondence. 

This time the moderator was David. At one point in Yves' oral 
examinations, a heated dispute developed between one of the 
examiners, Father Herlihy, and Yves. Father Herlihy was questioning 


Yves about the nature of the seven sacraments (baptism, confirmation, 
marriage, etc.), and he appeared to David to be angry. But it was Yves 
who drew David's closest attention — the handsome face drawn and 
haggard, mouth pulled tight in an obstinate grimace, perspiring 
forehead, eyes empty of their usual winsomeness. The change, so 
complete, so rapid, startled David and worried him. He could see none 
of the accustomed light, but only bitter resentment in Yves' eyes. 

Yves finally was able to mumble out some sort of answer to Father 
Herlihy's questions, and ran quickly from the examination room as 
soon as time was up. 

In his concern, David went along after the examination to Father 
Herlihy's study to discuss in greater detail exactly what had happened 
between him and Yves. 

Apparently Yves had insisted at one point that all the sacraments 
were no more than expressions of man's natural unity with the world 
around him. According to accepted doctrine, this is heretical. The 
sacraments are believed to be the supreme means of union with God. 
Yves' words had implied that, after his death, Jesus had gone back to 
nature; and therefore the sacraments were our way of being one with 
Jesus in the earth, the sky, the sea, and the wide universe. 

With his customary attention to detail, David wanted to know 
Father Herlihy's exact impression from Yves' words. "That was the 
funny part," Father Herlihy answered — and David never forgot his 
next words — "what he said was just foolish; but it was the peculiar 
sense he communicated to me; I seemed to be listening to something 
not quite human — I know it sounds foolish." 

Afterward, David had deep qualms about the whole matter. In part, 
he blamed himself: he felt that his own lectures on creation and on the 
origin of man had something to do with Yves' reaction. Yves could 
have wrongly interpreted the Teilhardian doctrines David taught. 
With only a thin and fragile line between Teilhard's view and a total 
denial of divinity in Jesus, Teilhardian concepts were delicious mental 
playthings that could — David saw clearly for the first time — be used to 
exalt man as an animal, to make his world into a gilded menagerie, to 
reduce Jesus to the status of a Christian hero as grandly noble and as 
pitifully mortal as Prometheus in the Greek myth, and to picture God 
as no more than the very bowels of earth and sky and the spatial 
distances of the universe with all its expanding galaxies. 

The incident continued to disturb David. Yves had conveyed merely 
by his looks during the exchange with Father Herlihy a sort of inner 


savagery and hate that David felt was out of kilter with Yves' normal 
demeanor. David had an instinctive suspicion of such sudden and 
dramatic breaks in the normal patterns of behavior. Perhaps it was 
merely a bad moment — and everyone has such moments. But if not, 
then that winning exterior and compatible behavior Yves ordinarily 
displayed must mask something else, some inner condition of spirit and 
bent of mind that no amount of seminary training had touched. 

However, there the matter rested. The end of the school year was 
on them. Three weeks later Yves, with eleven others, was ordained to 
the priesthood. David himself was scheduled to leave for a vacation at 
home on the family farm, and then to proceed to Mexico City for an 
international conference of anthropologists. The incident was quickly 
forgotten for the time being. 

When the summer was over, Yves was posted as assistant to an 
outlying parish of Manchester. He was near his hometown and within 
calling distance of his parents. For Yves' mother the new appointment 
was providential. Early in the new year, Yves' father, Romain, died 
suddenly from a heart attack. She would have been quite alone if Yves 
had not been posted to Manchester. 

Yves' memory of the time span between September i960 and 
January 1967 is clear and full of details. His recollections of 1967 are 
incomplete but still helpful in reconstructing what happened to him. 
From April 1968, when David made a first attempt to exorcise the evil 
spirit possessing Yves, until March 1970, when David concluded the 
exorcism, Yves' memory has large gaps. But his recollections, the notes 
and memories of David, together with the transcript of his exorcism 
contribute mightily to create a whole picture, a photomontage of how 
satanic possession started in one individual, gained ground, progressed 
continuously, and finally became as total as we can imagine it ever to 

Possession by the spirit of evil proceeds along the structure of 
day-to-day life. In Yves' case, it used the priestly structure of his life, 
appearing first of all in the way he administered the Sacrament of 
Marriage, then in the way he said Mass, and finally in all his priestly 

In the Sacrament of Ordination, it is the whole man who is 
"priested." He does not simply acquire an extra function. He is not 
endowed with merely a new faculty or granted a rare permission. 
Rather, it is a new dimension of his spirit which necessarily affects all 


he does bodily and mentally. Any deformation of that dimension by 
the introduction of some antipathetic or utterly foreign element spells 
disturbance and trouble. The dimension of priesthood cannot be 
removed or replaced; it can be degraded, neglected, distorted. 

Yves took up his duties in St. Declan's parish with apparent gusto. 
The work was not overwhelming. He had plenty of time for his own 
occupations. The parish bordered on the countryside; he had a view of 
the southeast from one window of his study and of the west from 
another. He rapidly became popular as a preacher in the parish, as a 
counselor for its younger members, and as a welcome visitor in the 
homes of the parishioners. At no time was there ever any question of 
his probity; he had no desire to accumulate wealth; he drank seldom; 
and those who knew him have always asserted that there was never in 
him the slightest deviation from his vow of celibacy. "A grand young 
priest" was the general judgment and impression. 

When, after a couple of months, he had established a daily routine 
and found out what amount of time was needed for his official duties 
as an assistant, he started again to cultivate his two principal hobbies: 
painting and English literature. Once he made a trip to New York to 
talk with a publisher about a study of the poet, Gerard Manly 
Hopkins, and he returned home full of enthusiasm for the project. 

It was toward the end of 1961, a little over a year after his arrival at 
St. Declan's, that the first traces of change became apparent in him. 

On an average, Yves performed ceremonies of marriage three to five 
times every month. He seemed to add a special note of solemnity, joy, 
and celebration by his mere presence. His sermons on these occasions 
were beautifully delivered. And it thrilled everyone present to see this 
handsome and graceful young priest celebrating the love of the 
newlyweds within the purlieu of the Church's holiness and God's 
purity, and the Lordship of Jesus. For these were the themes on which 
Yves preached again and again in modulated tones and poetic 

As time went on, however, Yves became more and more dissatisfied 
with the marriage ceremonial as prescribed in the Roman Ritual, the 
official handbook for priests that contains detailed instructions on how 
priests are to celebrate the various sacraments. He felt that the words 
and gestures assigned to the priest in performing a marriage ceremony 
were not merely outmoded, but that they did not convey what modern 
men and women thought and felt about marriage. 

Above all, Yves found the actual words of the marriage vows more 


and more repulsive and irrelevant. Here he was, standing in front of 
two young people about to embark on a marvelous union and life 
together; and, as official representative of the Church, all he could tell 
them to do in the name of God and religion was to "stick it out," to 
stay together no matter what happened, until they were parted by 
death. Was that precisely what marriage partners promised each 
other? he asked himself. 

In the beginning, he made no change in the words of the actual 
vows. But in his sermon at each marriage, he began to outline what the 
marriage partners did really promise to each other. 

In the first sermons he insisted that the partners were giving each 
other what Jesus gave his Church. Jesus was the supreme model. Then, 
as he developed this theme, he began to say more explicitly what it 
was Jesus gave his Church. 

Consciously now, Yves was drawing on what he had heard Father 
"Bones" say at the seminary and what he had thought out by his own 
reading of Teilhardian doctrines. Mixed with all he said were lines of 
poetry about Jesus which he applied to the bridegroom and the bride. 

In these sermons Jesus was pictured by Yves as the summit of 
human development, the great Omega Point. He made all nature 
beautiful, including the bodies and the love of married people. Jesus 
was so dedicated to perfecting the material world that he was evolving 
as that world's peak of perfection. In the same total way that Jesus 
gave himself to this human world even to the point of dying like every 
living element in it, so the marriage partners should, Yves pointed out, 
adapt themselves to this world. They would find perfection primarily 
in each other, secondarily in other people around them, then in nature, 
in life, and finally in their dying and death. 

All this was, of course, far from the normal teaching of Yves' 
Church, according to which Jesus does not depend on the material 
world in any way, and marriage is a sacrament which enables the 
partners to live their lives with supernatural grace and to achieve 
eternal life in heaven after death. 

But the change in Yves' beliefs was not the strangest or most 
dramatic thing about this early "enigmatic stage" of his possession. 
What is relevant and striking is that Yves constantly found his 
thoughts and words "coming" to him. Sometimes, having spoken to 
the congregation in the church, he woke up to the fact that he had said 
this or thought that without having willed it or even been conscious of 


what he had done. It was not that his mind had wandered. It was a 
sort of "remote control." 

In fact, Yves' first clear idea of what was happening within himself 
did not come because his clerical colleagues in the rectory and a few 
parishioners objected to some of his thoughts and expressions. They 
did, but this of itself did not bother Yves very much. He still relied on 
his charm and his words to get him out of any incidental difficulties. 

That "remote control" which was to increase in him until it became 
paramount in his life — this was the first sign to him of something alien 
within him. It had become apparent to him at first during his free 

In his free time away from the church and his parish duties, Yves 
tackled painting and writing much as any other artist. He would be in 
the mood for painting or poetry. He would have some perceptions of 
color, line, form, or spatial dimensions. The perceptions burned in his 
imagination and inner sensibilities for some period of time. He would 
sit down to paint, for instance, while he thus burned inside with 
images, imaginings, flights of fancy and inner landscapes. 

While doing initial drafts on canvas or paper, motivated by that not 
unusual activity of his imagination, he normally experienced a special 
inner perception which was always pleasurable. It was, Yves said, his 
mind and will gathering in and enjoying the fruits of his imagination. 
And there poured back into his imagination freshly burnished forms of 
what originally had entered through his senses. 

It was these burnished forms he tried to depict on canvas or to 
express in his poetry. But even as he painted or wrote, he found his 
memory of past things reviving and lighting up like a panel, pouring 
assonances and shadings into his imagination. And his general effort 
suddenly expanded and became richer as he tried to reproduce the 
new form his experience had taken. 

It was this rather normal creative routine that began to take a 
peculiar turn; and it was always in strict relationship to some exterior 
trouble or difficulty Yves had as a priest. 

The most important occasion which he clearly remembers hinged 
upon a bit of unpleasantness with the senior assistant in his parish. In 
late September 1962, he had preached at a marriage. Afterward, the 
senior assistant of the parish, who had been present at the ceremony, 
admonished Yves about his sermon. "You are making marriage a 
merely human thing," he argued. "It is a sacrament, a channel of 


supernatural grace. The Lord Jesus is not going to evolve out of the 
earth or a woman's body or from gases in the upper atmosphere." 

The rebuke was potentially serious, but Yves had talked his way out 
of it; the senior assistant was very firm, but he liked Yves, as everyone 
did. For his part, Yves wanted no trouble. He liked his post too much. 
But, afterwards, he had a deep surge of resentment about the whole 

The following day was his weekly free day. In the morning, while he 
was painting, the incident was still annoyingly in the forefront of his 
mind. But there was also a peculiarity which he was quick to notice 
and apparently powerless to prevent: he felt there were two parts of 
him or two functions going on at the same time in him, each of them 
working in different directions. 

He went on painting, holding the brush, choosing colors, dipping, 
painting, standing back and returning to his easel and continuing to 
paint. All the while, the normal mechanism of his inner man was at 
work — imagination, memory, mind, will. 

But all that while, too, another and parallel process was going on. 
His imagination was receiving data — images, impressions, forms — 
from some source other than the outside world. He knew this because 
they resembled nothing he had ever seen, heard, or thought. And then, 
too, it seemed to him that these images were not assimilated by his 
mind and will. Rather, they seemed to paralyze mind and will, to 
freeze them so that bit by bit they went fallow. An entire idea — he 
could not even make out its contours or details — was being "shoved" 
into his mind and forced into his will for acceptance. 

He resisted the "push" of the idea; but it eventually invaded his 
mind and will through his imagination. And finally, as far as he could 
make out, he yielded. Then that grossly strange idea flooded back into 
his imagination with all its parts, reasons, and logic, there to be clothed 
in new images. His mind even supplied words for those images and 
sometimes, indeed, he found himself pronouncing these words in 
whole sentences. 

After about an hour, on the first vivid and eerie occasion of this 
kind, he was shocked to discover that he was now painting in a strange 
and completely alien fashion compared to his normal way. His canvas 
had become a hodgepodge of his initial brushings, which he had 
intended to portray a street scene. On top of them was a crazy quilt of 
other forms and shapes — shadowy trees, rivers, irregular forms with 
legs, squares with ears, loops that ended in numerals. 


When he resisted that inner ''push" of ideas from that unknown 
source, his painting followed the normal course. But when he yielded, 
the hodgepodge started anew. He seemed to have become a means of 
translating into pictorial images some message or instructions or 
thoughts conveyed to him forcibly and not by his own choosing. 

Yves felt alone and vulnerable. He was very disturbed. On an 
impulse he decided to drive out to see some friends in the country. But 
there was no letup. Along the way, he found he could no longer 
concentrate on his driving, so great and distracting was the force of all 
that was now pouring into him. He had to stop the car on the side of 
the road. He sat there and tried to keep his mind and will free of all 
those images and forms that were pounding at them from some source 
he could not identify. 

But as he intensified his struggle, another element crept to the fore: 
his resentment about the previous day's argument with the senior 
assistant. When Yves yielded to the "push" of the idea being "shoved" 
into his mind, it brought with it some peculiar satisfaction in 
resentment. When Yves resisted, the resentment smoldered there and 
hurt him. In the brief pauses between these inner gyrations, Yves' 
mind dwelt on what he had said during the sermon and elaborated the 
ideas still further. He found intense satisfaction in this. 

Eventually, as he sat beside the road, his planned visit with friends 
forgotten, he found himself yielding willingly to the "push" of the 
idea. And the moment he yielded, he felt immediate relief from an 
internal pressure and a deep conviction that his resentment against the 
senior assistant was justified: Yves had been right all along. He knew 
what was going on. Besides, he found his imagination and feelings 
once more chockful of inspiration which he knew would pour into his 
sermons, his painting, and his poetry. 

Yves points to this experience as the moment "remote control" 
became a constant element in his life, because at that instant he 
accepted it willingly. It was, so to speak, the "consecration" of Yves' 

Once he voluntarily accepted it — and he insists today that he knew 
he was accepting some "remote" or "alien" control — he was suddenly 
inundated. He still had not moved from his car. All around him was 
soft-spoken countryside. But every sense — eyes, ears, taste, smell, 
touch — was saturated with a discordant medley of experiences. A riot 
of sounds, colors, odors, tastes, skin feelings washed over him. He 
could distinguish a certain rhythmic beat throughout this confusion 


and din. But he had no control and could not shake himself loose from 
these perceptions. Throughout, he felt a certain privileged awe, a 
secret pride. Then the storm in his senses gathered up inside him 
somewhere, absorbing utterly his imagination and memory. He now 
felt as if serpentine thoughts were touching the furthest reaches of his 
mind, and that fine tendrils were closing around each fiber of his will. 

Slowly he began again to be conscious of the world around him. 
What had occurred had taken only moments, but for those moments 
he had been totally abstracted, walled up within himself. 

Sound and light and shape now wafted back through the trellis of 
his senses, making him a newly aware observer of the world. He heard 
birds singing once more; he felt the sunlight on his face again. The 
coolness of the wind and the smell of morning-fresh grass and flowers 
became vivid for him. But now each lattice of sensation was filled by 
some coiling presence weaving slowly, possessively, with ease, lazily 
enjoying an acquired resting place in the shaded corners of his being. 

For a brief instant, there was some echo of resistance in him. Some 
ancient voice protested in dim tones. Then it ceased. Yves "let go," 
and all tension fled. He was at peace for the first time in many years. 
And he felt renewed. There was a sudden ease throughout his body 
and an almost fierce, certainly overpowering calm flooding his 

He was never more conscious of being "visited." And every image 
he ever had of those who had been "visited" by "another" came 
tumbling from his memory: Moses at the burning bush; Isaiah catching 
sight of the flaming seraphs in the temple of Yahweh; Mary the Virgin 
in Nazareth bowing before Gabriel the messenger; Jesus transfigured 
with Moses and Elias on Mount Tabor and conversing with God; St. 
John in his Patmos cavern gazing at the Mystic Lamb in all his glory; 
Constantine galvanized by the Cross in the clouds; Joan of Arc in her 
prison cell tearfully hearing her "voices" in the depths of pain; John of 
the Cross in his prison cell piercing the Dark Night and embracing the 
Beloved; Teilhard fingering the bones of Sinanthropos and seeing 
Jesus, Omega Point, prefigured in those pathetic pieces. Yves had a 
clear sense of being destined, as all those had been, for a special 

All this rushed by him and fell away as he raised his eyes and looked 
again at the fields, the trees, the sky. All was now moving in a new 
vision, animated by a life he had dreamed of, but never known. It was 
all, he now knew, a sacrament, a row of sacraments strung together as 


a lovely necklace around man's world. And his mind, will, and inner 
senses were permeated with a strange new incense consecrating 
him — as no bishop's hands could ever do — to the priesthood of a new 
being. He knew: always it had been so near him and yet so far. 
"Beauty, ever ancient, ever new! Too late have I known thee!" he 
murmured Augustine's quiet regret. 

There was awe at the surprise of it all, humbleness at not having 
seen it all before. And, dominantly, an enthusiasm lush with passion. 
The coiling presence stirred in him; and he began to daydream. 

"Hey, Father! Having any trouble?" The shout startled Yves. It was 
a local state trooper who had drawn alongside in his patrol car. Yves 
snapped his head around, angry at the interruption, his eyes blazing. 
But the genial smile of the trooper reassured him. They knew each 
other. "Just passing a few moments in peace, Pat," he said, recovering 
himself and reaching for the ignition key. "Give Jane and the kids my 

With a wave of his hand he continued on his way to see his friends. 

From then on, Yves became extremely careful. It was as if he had 
been put on his guard. He knew with an almost uncanny foresight 
when trouble was in store for him. At times he was forewarned about a 
particular person. "Someone" told him. At other times the warning 
concerned activities: a request to solemnize a marriage, a request for 
confessions, an invitation to dinner at a parishioner's house or with his 
fellow priests; or it might be a book or article in a magazine or a letter. 
The warning was silent, but clear and pithy: "Avoid it!" or "Don't do 
it!" or "Don't meet them!" Except for an occasional flourish in a 
sermon, his colleagues found no further reason to cavil at his ideas. 

But when he spoke privately with parishioners, with an engaged 
couple about to be married, for example, it was different. Then he 
explained their union so poetically, and he dwelt so insistingly on the 
peculiarly earthly role of Jesus, that they always departed completely 
charmed by his counseling. 

Yves himself clearly explains now how the entire purpose, meaning, 
and reason of marriage as a Sacrament had changed for him. It had 
become a Sacrament of nature for him. It had lost its dimension as a 
channel of supernatural grace, just as the senior assistant had warned 
him. It was something that united people with the natural universe. 
And this meant there had been some deep damage to Yves' own faith. 

As time went by, and Yves introduced this same dark element to the 
other Sacraments, his own condition became far more extreme; and he 


himself began to sense more clearly the meaning of his voluntary 
commitment to a force he now could not control. The moment for 
possible resistance had passed. 

In 1963, Yves' situation became critical for him. Saying Mass was a 
prime example. The servers and the people found that he began to 
take a longer time to say Mass. Peculiarly enough, it was only one part 
of the Mass that took the additional time. It was the most solemn 
section immediately preceding the Consecration that begins when the 
priest extends his hands, palms downward, fingers together, over the 
chalice and the bread. The ceremonial calls for complete silence, 
broken only by the tinkling of the Mass bell. Yves would now remain 
for abnormal lengths of time, with his hands outstretched — at first only 
three minutes, then ten, then fifteen, once thirty agonizing additional 
minutes, with congregation and attendants waiting and watching. 
Then he would take an abnormally long time to utter the actual words 
of Consecration. At an ordinary pace, all these ceremonial actions take 
no more than three to five minutes. 

His colleagues thought he was going through a "mystical" period, or 
that he was suffering from "religious scruples," that he took too 
seriously each official prescription for the actions and words of the 
Mass. Some priests go through such a phase. They know that any 
deviation can result in venial or mortal sin. So they torture themselves, 
making sure they observe all the rules; they go back again and again 
repeating actions and words, to make sure they consciously do 
everything correctly. 

But Yves neither was mystical nor was he paralyzed by religious 
scruples. He was undergoing what he now describes as the most 
agonizing whipping and thrashing of his inner self. It began one day 
when, as he tells it, from the moment that his hands were outstretched 
over the chalice and the bread, until after the Consecration, the 
"remote control" changed in force and in its "message." 

"I fought every inch of the way," Yves recounts today, "and I lost 
every inch of that fight." 

Instead of the officially prescribed words of the Mass and the 
concepts expressed in those words, Yves now found different concepts 
and different words. It was always and only key words that were 
changed. Every time, for instance, the word "saving" or "salvation" 
was ritually prescribed, he could only think and say "winning" and 
"triumph." "Saving" and "salvation" appeared to him like words 


scribbled on bits of torn paper and pinned to a wall out of his reach. 
To reach for them impotently was the source of intense agony and 
searing pain. 

Similarly with "love" (this now became "pride"), "died" and 
"death" (now "returned home to death" and "nothingness"), "sac- 
rifice" (now "defiance"), "sins" (now "myths and fables"), "bread" 
and "wine" (now "desire" and "pleasure"). So it went. 

An additional agony ensued whenever a sign of the cross was called 
for by the ritual, when Yves would find only the index finger of his 
right hand capable of motion, and it could trace only a vertical line 

Throughout, his memory and reflexes propelled him to act according 
to the ritual. The substitute words and thoughts poured in. He 
recognized immediately that the sense and intent of the whole 
ceremony was changed utterly by those new words and thoughts. He 
fought with will and mind to retain the ritual. But each time it was the 
same: as long as he fought, some hard lump seemed to start expanding 
deep within him — not in his body, not in his brain, but in his living 
consciousness. "It was like remembering last night's nightmare and 
knowing that this reality was what frightened you then." As the lump 
expanded, it began to reduce in a sinister fashion the area of his very 

At the excruciating limit of this inner pain, it began to have a 
physical and psychological ricochet: the blood roared in his ears and 
peculiar pains started — his hair, eyelashes, and toenails ached unbear- 
ably. Quick kaleidoscopic pictures of his entire life tumbled in front of 
his mind, always making him look ludicrous, smelly, contemptible, 
beyond help. He could hear himself beginning to form a scream, 
which, if it had emerged, would have been: "I'm drowning! I'm 
perishing! Save me!" 

It never emerged. He stopped fighting. All agony ceased. And a 
marvelous exhilaration — not unmixed with relief — flooded him. The 
ease was almost painful in its contrast with the pain that had preceded 

The final agony came one day when he started to pronounce the 
words of Consecration. Instead of "This is My Body" and "This is My 
Blood," other words echoed in his own voice: "This is My Tombstone" 
and "This is My Sexuality." As he pronounced these words while 
bending over the altar as prescribed by the ritual, all intent of 


authentic Consecration fled from him. His index finger bent into a 
hook shape, thrust itself into the wine, and then scratched a vertical 
red stain on the white wafer. 

At that moment, Yves could not straighten up. His ears were filled 
with two different sounds. He was sure he actually heard them: a 
jeering laugh that echoed and echoed and echoed; and a faint keening, 
a muted wail or cry of protest which eventually died away in the 
reverberations of that heinous laugh. Then, as from that "remote 
control," he heard the syllables: "Jesus is now Jonathan," and 
"Jonathan is now Yves," and "Yves is now Jonathan and Jesus." And 
finally, "All is gathered into Mr. Natural." 

It was some time before Yves realized that only he had heard all 
those profanities. But whether they heard those words or not, it was 
Yves' appearance after those painfully extended moments of inward 
battle that shocked the people who watched him. When he turned 
around finally to distribute communion, his face was terribly drawn, 
haggard, the color of chalk. His hair, cut short then, seemed to be 
standing on end. His eyes, normally so impressively clear and winning, 
were narrowed to slits; and he was muttering through clenched teeth. 
The whole impression was stark and lifeless. 

He finished the Mass in a violent state of inner tension. Only after 
some time spent alone was he once more flooded with that strange 
peace and exultation. Finally, when he had recovered himself alone in 
the vesting room, he emerged smiling, composed, looking as he had 
always looked. 

His yielding to the "control" at Mass had immediate and far-reach- 
ing effects. In baptizing infants, he changed the Latin words, which 
were unintelligible to the parents and bystanders. When he was 
supposed to say, "I baptize you in the name of the Father and the Son 
and the Holy Spirit," he said, "I baptize you in the name of the Sky, 
the Earth, and Water." 

But the most momentous change in his performance both of 
Baptism and the other Sacraments (Extreme Unction, Confession) 
affected those parts which spoke of "Satan" or the "Devil" or "evil 

At Baptism, instead of saying (in Latin), "Depart, Unclean Spirit" or 
"To renounce Satan and all his works" or "Become a child of God," he 
now said, "Depart, spirit of hate for the Angel of Light," and "To 
renounce all exile of Prince Lucifer," and "Become a member of the 


In Confession, he stopped saying, "I absolve you of your sins in the 
name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit"; instead, he 
said, "1 confirm you in your natural wishes, in the name of Sky, Earth, 
and Water." And when he administered the Sacrament of the Dying 
("Extreme Unction" was its old name), he committed the dying person 
to the mercy and peace of "Sister Earth" and to the eternity of 
"Mother Nature." 

Whenever he felt an initial repugnance to accepting what was 
"dictated" to him by the "remote control," that frightful inner lump 
grew sensitive; and Yves became a being of pure pain. Pie quickly 
obeyed, and he was rewarded always by a wild exultation. The sun 
was brighter. The blue of the sky was deeper. The coffee he drank was 
never so good. The blood coursed vigorously in his veins. And his head 
never felt clearer. 

By the end of 1964, it became obvious to his colleagues there was 
something wrong with Yves that they could no longer explain by his 
artistic temperament, his French Canadian-Swedish ancestry, a 
mystical period of life, or religious scruples. It was all too peculiar. It 
frightened some. It repelled others. It angered still others. It left all 
with an eerie sense of something utterly alien in Yves. And to cap it all, 
Yves had begun to refer to himself as "Father Jonathan." 

But it was always isolated things, and nobody ever put them all 
together into a definite pattern. When he turned around at Mass (as 
the priest did four or five times) to say "Dominas vobiscum" ("The 
Lord be with you"), one colleague swore he heard Yves say, "Do-minus 
Lucis vobiscum" ("The Lord of Light be with you"). Others did not 
hear that single added word, but the faint glint in his eyes gave them a 
momentary shock. Once, as he touched the forehead of a baby he was 
baptizing, the baby went into violent hysteria and had to be rushed to 
the hospital for treatment. 

All such incidents taken individually were susceptible of perfectly 
rational explanations. But his visit to a boy dying of bone cancer was 
the final incident that led ultimately to his abandonment of his post. 

It was at the end of 1966. The boy, the fourteen-year-old red-haired 
son of Irish immigrant parents, was to be anointed: death was certain 
and imminent. Before the priest, Father Yves, arrived, the boy asked 
his mother to wash his face and hands and help him put on his favorite 
shirt and tie. He also asked his father to turn his bed toward the door, 
because, he said, there was a dark thing in the corner of the room. 

When Yves arrived, all went normally until Yves endeavored to 


straighten the bed, making the boy again face the "darkened" corner. 
The boy started to scream: "No! Father! No! Please! Mother!" Then as 
his mother ran in and Yves, having straightened the bed, stood over 
toward that particular corner, the boy started to weep uncontrollably. 

Yves does not remember all the boy said, but he does recall certain 
words and sentences: "darkness," "they smile at each other," "he 
hates Jesus," "save me," "I don't want to go with them." 

Finally the boy's father apologetically requested Yves to leave and 
come back the next day. But his mother telephoned Yves' superior, the 
pastor of the parish. The pastor came an hour later, anointed the boy, 
and waited for the end, which came quickly. 

The incident was the last straw. And now everything known and 
remarked about Yves for the previous three years was put together. 

The pastor and his senior assistant said nothing to Yves, but they 
spent about three months gathering information and watching Yves 
closely. In addition to the peculiarities mentioned already, they 
received a puzzling report they could not make head or tail of. A man 
answering Yves' description periodically lived in a loft in Greenwich 
Village, New York. His appearances there always coincided with Yves' 
vacations and the free days when he was away from his home parish. 

They found out that the loft was known as the Shrine of the New 
Being; that the man was called Father Jonathan; that he held services 
for all and sundry: said Mass, performed marriages, heard confessions, 
ordained men and women as priests of the Shrine, baptized infants and 
adults, went on call to homes and hospitals where the dying lay; and 
that he had one other specific rite, which he called the Bearing of the 
Light. Its initiated members were called the Light-Bearers. But no 
details about either members or their rites were available. 

Just at the moment that a full written report was ready and about to 
be sent to the bishop, Yves seemed to have been alerted — however 
late — to the intentions of his colleagues. For about two months his 
behavior, as far as anyone could judge, was absolutely normal. He 
never went to Greenwich Village. He worked hard. 

Then, in mid-June 1967, when all concerned were just about to 
dismiss the whole affair as exaggerated and irrelevant, Yves had his 
first terrible seizure. Predictably, perhaps, it was at Mass. 

When he had stretched his hands out, palms downward over the 
chalice, he suddenly started to weep and groan and sway. One hand 
clamped down roughly over the chalice. The other fell resoundingly on 
the white wafer of bread. The servers called the pastor. He, together 


with the two other assistants, could not physically dislodge Yves' 
hands, or move the chalice, or stop Yves' weeping and groaning. He 
and the chalice and the bread were rooted physically to their place as 
if by rivets. He became incontinent on the altar. 

By that time, the pastor had emptied the church and locked the 
doors. They were about to call a doctor when Yves suddenly let go of 
the chalice and the bread. He seemed to be flung backward, tumbling 
down the three steps of the altar and falling heavily to the marble floor 
of the sanctuary. He was unconscious when they reached him. 

He awoke about an hour later. When the pastor spoke with him, 
Yves disclosed to him that his mother had been epileptic, and he 
pleaded with the pastor not to put him to shame publicly. He would go 
away in order to rest, follow a doctor's advice after a checkup, and all 
would be well. 

But now the pastor believed the worst. In his eyes, Father Yves must 
be possessed. The pastor's conclusion was no more than a deep 
conviction based on his personal reactions. But even so, it was a 
serious matter, and it would not be dropped or postponed again until 
the pastor was sure one way or the other. A discreet inquiry revealed 
that Sybil, Yves' mother, was not epileptic. In a long Sunday morning 
interview, the bishop was told the whole story, including the pastor's 
worst fears. That was in June at the seminary, where the bishop was 
ordaining the new young priests. 

The bishop called in Father David M. for consultation. 

After his consultation with the bishop, Father David had an 
interview with Yves. He came away completely baffled. Not only did 
Yves cooperate fully with him, but whatever Yves said seemed to 
strike a sympathetic chord in David. The only two peculiarities he 
could not explain satisfactorily were Yves' constant use of his new 
name, Jonathan, and the condition of Yves' right index finger. 

The name David could accept. After all, only ten years before, 
David had started to call himself, or at least to sign letters to his 
intimate friends, as "Pierre" (after Teilhard de Chardin); and he had 
taken a lot of leg-pulling from his colleagues about that. And the name 
"Bones" had stuck to David chiefly because David, once he heard the 
name, deliberately used it several times during his lectures; he liked it. 

The finger was another matter. According to the doctor who had 
X-rayed it, no bone was broken and no nerve was shattered. The 
problem could in no way be traced to the supposed epileptic history of 


Yves' mother. There was calcification in the finger; but the deformity 
could not be traced to a blow or injury; and no calcification could be 
found elsewhere in Yves' body. He was found not to be arthritic. 

For the rest of it, David could not find much to be alarmed about. 
He had checked out Yves' mother: she had, indeed, been subject to 
some sort of seizures, but the doctors who examined her always ruled 
out epilepsy. That much left David relieved. But he still came away 
baffled. He was convinced that he had missed something essential; and 
he felt foolish without knowing why. His discussion with Yves had 
covered both the doctrine Yves professed as a priest and Yves' own 
spirituality. As far as David could make out, both doctrine and 
spirituality coincided more or less with his own. 

"If Yves is in error," David told the bishop later, "then so am I. Now 
what do I do?" 

The bishop eyed David speculatively for a while. Then he said 
softly: "I suppose if all this paleontology and de Chardin's teachings 
were to lead you to a point where you had to choose faith or de 
Chardin, you would choose faith, Father David." 

It was a statement of fact, with an implied question. David glanced 
at the bishop, who was now looking out the window of his study with 
his back to David. 

The bishop continued. "Tell me, Father. Is evolution as much a fact 
as, say, the salvation of us all by Jesus?" 

David faced the question with its now distant echoes of the 
foreboding he had felt the day the bishop had named him to the post 
of exorcist. Today he says his first reaction to the question was 
surprise: "It's as if I had neglected something final, and the time was 
coming when I would have to face it." Deep in his mind, he realized, 
he had spontaneously said, "Yes." 

To the bishop he answered by rising and saying something to the 
effect that it was like comparing apples and oranges. And the bishop 
apparently wanted only to put the question. He was far too old and 
wise a man always to expect precise answers. 

After this interview with his bishop, David was not at peace. He 
made up his mind to see Yves the following day. 

What he proposed to Yves was quite simple. After much thought, it 
seemed to David that they should conduct a ceremony in which they 
would say special prayers for the sick and against disease, and in which 
they would also go through the main parts of the Exorcism ritual. He, 


David, would conduct a simple exorcism. The idea, he told Yves, was 
to satisfy the bishop and the pastor. 

Yves saw no difficulty. He would like that, he said. Only Yves' pastor 
would be present; no trouble was anticipated. 

They performed the exorcism in the private oratory of the seminary, 
all three men kneeling in the pews normally occupied by the 
seminarians. Yves answered in a low murmur all the questions put to 
him by David as exorcist. "Do you believe in God?" "Do you believe 
in Jesus Christ, Our Lord?" "Do you renounce the Devil and all his 
works and pomps?" and so on. 

Yves kissed the crucifix; and, jabbing his crooked index finger into 
the holy-water font, he blessed himself. 

David and the pastor rose to their feet at the end of the ceremony. 
Yves had not budged from his place where he knelt with his face in his 
hands. They both went out quietly, leaving him alone. 

"That's that," said David with a sigh of relief. 

"I did not hear one clear word from him," rejoined the pastor, "but 
I suppose I'd be as subdued as he was in the same circumstances." 

In the oratory, Yves raised his face from his hands a few minutes 
later and looked around; he was alone; and he could not remember 
much. He remembered coming in with David and the pastor, kneeling 
down, and opening the ritual book. But that was all. For the 15 
minutes of the exorcism ceremony he had completely blacked out. 
When he knelt down, it was as if a powerful sedative had been 
injected into him. He remembered nothing except a sudden compul- 
sion forcing his lips to speak and his limbs to move. 

He waited a moment now, then looked toward the altar. All was 
normal on the altar; but between him and it a bulky, formless shadow 
hung in the air blotting out all sight of the crucifix over the altar and of 
the stained-glass windows behind the altar. Then, abruptly but calmly, 
like a man remembering a decision he had made or some instructions 
from a superior, Yves rose and left the oratory. A seminarian he met at 
the door caught sight of Yves' face: it was glowing and laughing. 

That evening, as David sat in his study, he could not concentrate on 
the work in hand. He was supposed to finish a paper for a conference 
on de Chardin's work at Choukoutien, China, where the Jesuit had 
unearthed the fossil of Sinanthropos. But David's mind kept going 
back again and again to the bishop's question: "Is evolution as much a 


fact as the salvation of us all by Jesus?" A foolish question, he told 
himself. No meaning to it at all. The bishop was of the old school. But 
still it kept bothering him. 

He looked up at the glass cases where all his beloved fossils and 
paleontological treasures were exhibited. His eyes traveled over a 
chipped skull casing, the collection of anklebones, the pieces of 
ancient rock in which flora and fauna fossils were embedded, and the 
series of reconstructed busts: Solo Man, Rhodesian Man, Neanderthal 
Man, Cro-Magnon Man. His mind was playing tricks with him: not 
only were the plaster busts looking at him, he thought, but these dead 
and broken human bones seemed to be speaking without sound. 

Then his head cleared. He got angry with himself. Had a choice to 
be made between evolution and Jesus? Must it be made? If Jesus were 
the culmination of it all, there was no such choice to be made. Jesus 
and evolution were one in some deep way or other. 

He hung along the edge of these considerations for a while. Then on 
a sudden impulse he went over to the house phone and called to the 
guest room where Yves was spending the night. 

"Hello, Yves — eh — Jonathan," he stumbled. 

"Hello, Father," Yves answered in a calm and pleasant tone. 

"I just had an idea, Jonathan. About evolution and all that, I mean. 
Supposing Teilhard was wrong all the time and his whole theory and 
evolution itself was irreconcilable with the divinity of Jesus, what 
would you say?" 

There was a short pause. Then in a level voice with a certain note of 
hidden triumph, Yves said: "You seem to be asking this to yourself and 
for the first time, Father David!" 

"But what do you say, Yves — Jonathan, excuse me," David insisted. 
"I am now asking yon." 

"There can never be any such conflict, Father David" — David 
began to feel some relief — "for the simple reason that evolution makes 
Jesus possible. And only evolution can do that." Yves remembers the 
conversation very well. The "remote control" was on him again with a 
strong compulsion; he waited until the thoughts and words came to 
him. Then he continued quietly, but with the emphasis of one in 
possession of some superior or additional knowledge. "Father David, 
all I have become, you made me. My spirituality and my beliefs and 
my explanations all come from you. You also know that evolution 
makes it possible for us to believe in Jesus; it makes Jesus possible for 
us as rational men. Don't you, Father David?" 


At the other end of the telephone, David caught his breath sharply. 
As Yves' words hit his ears, the thoughts and images they conveyed 
pushed past all his mental safeguards like rough visitors. He felt an 
invasion of himself such as he had never known before. He struggled 
for a moment: "Do you really think . . ." 

"Father David, you have the testimony of your own conscience and 
your conscious mind." Then, with terrible deliberateness and a hard 
note in his voice that completely destroyed David's self-confidence: 
"After all, if I had to be exorcised, you also need it. Perhaps it is both 
of us who needed it. Or, perhaps — and this is a better idea — we are 
both beyond exorcism." The telephone clicked and went dead. 

David was stunned. Within a few hours, he decided to telephone 
the bishop. Before he could say a word, he was given the latest news: 
Yves had gone to the bishop that evening, resigned from the diocese, 
and left with some friends for New York. 

From that time onward until the marriage by the sea, David did not 
see much of Yves, though he heard about him constantly as Father 

But now David had a problem of his own: had he in some way or 
other been contaminated? Had he yielded to the Evil One? Had he 
voluntarily, although under the veil of goodness and wisdom, admitted 
the influence of the Devil into his own personal life? 

He thought back over the exorcism. Come to think of it now, Yves 
was not the only one who had mumbled the Latin words. He himself 
had mumbled them, his mind had been absent half the time thinking 
of other problems. 

David did not realize it then, but he would not enjoy any peace 
until the exorcism of Yves had been accomplished some two years 

When Father Jonathan, as Yves now called himself, came to stay in 
Greenwich Village, he chose at first to work among its inhabitants, 
seeking neophytes and converts for his cause. He hung around the 
popular discotheques and bars, joined the clubs, took part in several of 
the "happenings" organized by the various Village groups of the time. 
He became known for what he claimed to be: the founder of a new 

But after a year of this apostolate, Jonathan's emphasis changed. He 
no longer consorted with the ordinary denizens of the Village. He had 
a different mission: to create a new religious movement among the 


well-heeled families of upper Manhattan. Initially he became good 
friends with a few people he met by chance. As time went on, he 
enlarged his circle. Soon he had enough voluntary contributions to 
enlarge and decorate his Shrine of the Loft, as he called it. And there, 
every Wednesday evening, he held services, administered the new 
"Sacraments,'' and counseled the members of his "parish." 

By the autumn of 1968, he had attracted a solid congregation who 
found that Jonathan, far from being an iconoclast or a preacher of 
strange doctrines, seemed to revive in them a new sense of religious 
belief and a trust in the future. His message was simple. He couched it 
in beautiful language. He strewed his addresses with a genuine 
knowledge of art and poetry. And, most especially, he had a knack of 
suffusing everything with esthetic values. He could preach on the 
Missing Link, for example, or a picture of Neanderthal Man, and make 
the entire idea of evolution from inanimate matter appear a glorious 
beginning. For the future, Jonathan had a still more glorious outlook. 
There was a new being in process now, he told his congregations; and 
it would live in a new time. "New Being" and "New Time" became 
his watchwords. 

Jonathan's outlook and his intuition of the rather sinister "New 
Being" came just in time to fill a vacuum felt by many people. The 
vacuum had begun to appear many years before Jonathan's arrival; its 
effects in theater, poetry, and art had been felt far and wide during 
preceding decades. All — poetry, theater, and art — had constantly 
lamented the fact that man's world had increasingly sacrificed 
meaning for usefulness. And without any further meaning, without the 
possibility of some transcendence, that world, however "useful," 
ceases to nourish the spirit of men and women and children. Without 
that nourishment, the spirit of man must die. 

In the area of religion and especially of Roman Catholicism, the 
vacuum became widely visible and tangible in the late 1960s, when 
the changes introduced by the Second Vatican Council had taken 
effect. The new changes did away with much of the ancient 
symbolism — its mystery and its immemorial associations. The changes 
might have evolved into something worthwhile, except for the strange 
vacuum that now seized Roman Catholics and religious people in 

Its effect seemed sudden. And it was numbing. For it was a vacuum 
of indifference: to the external rites — words, actions, objects — proper 


to religion; to the concepts of religious thought and theology; and to 
the functions and character of religious people — priests, rabbis, 
ministers, bishops, popes — to all of these was now applied the norm of 
"usefulness": form equals function; but, beyond practical use, there is 
meaning. The externals of religion no longer seemed to have any 
compelling significance. Increasing numbers of people laid them aside, 
or ignored them, or used them as mere social conveniences and 
conventional signposts. 

Jonathan's message was simple and geared to this new situation. All 
the beauty of being human had, he said, been obscured by religious 
theorizing and institutional churches. But now is a new time, he 
preached: all is and always was really natural. Good meant natural. 
We did not need such artificial supports as organized religions had 
supplied. We must just rediscover the perfectly natural. Everywhere 
in the world around us there were natural sacraments, natural shrines, 
natural holiness, natural immortality, natural deity. There was a 
natural grace and overwhelming natural beauty. Furthermore, in spite 
of the chasm that institutional religion had dug between humans and 
the nature of the world, the world and all humans were one in some 
naturally mystical union. We came from that union and by death we 
went back into it. Jonathan called that natural union ''Abba Father." 

In effect, Jonathan made a fateful synthesis of Teilhardian evolu- 
tionary doctrines and Teilhard's idea of Jesus. And he permeated it 
with a deep humanism and had a knowing eye for the yawning 
indifference now gripping traditional Christian believers. 

In Jonathan's outlook, "religious" belief became easy again. At one 
pole, one could accept the currently pervasive idea that man evolved 
from inanimate matter. At the other, one had no need to aim at 
believing in an unimaginable "resurrection" of the body. Instead, 
there was a return "to where we came from," as Jonathan used to say: 
a going back to the oneness of nature and of this universe. 

All this allowed the clever use of the full range of vocabulary and 
concept about "salvation," "divine love," "hope," "goodness," "evil," 
"honesty" — all terms and ideas that were already so comforting and 
familiar to his congregation. But all these terms were understood in a 
sense completely different from the traditional one: minus a supernat- 
ural god, minus a man-god called Jesus, and minus a supernatural 
condition called "personal afterlife." 

Jonathan's congregation was never very large — never more than 


about 150 people. But he drew deep satisfaction from it all; for in his 
mind, all this was a preparation for the glorious New Time which was 
just around the corner — at the Shrine of the Loft. 

But there were deep consequences for Jonathan. As time went on, 
and the spring of 1969 approached, he found more and more that, in 
the literal sense of the words, "he was not his own man" any longer. 
Outsiders — his flock, his friends — noticed no difference beyond that he 
had let his golden hair grow longer, that he wore exotic clothes, and 
that his language became very exalted. 

With the passage of time, however, Jonathan's "movement" seemed 
to be in danger of petering out — before the New Time started! He was 
getting no new followers. His doctrine and outlook did not easily 
accommodate the more flamboyant upheavals of the 1960s. He was no 
revolutionary in the political sense. The Shrine of the Loft was clearly 
on the wane before it had really taken off. He needed something new. 

Meanwhile, Jonathan would wake up in the middle of the night and 
find his mind full of strange impulses coming from that "remote 
control." He kept finding himself packing a bag and preparing for a 
journey. He spent long hours alone in his Shrine; and later he did not 
know what he had been doing there all that time. The "remote 
control" was inexorable in its domination. He had to wait until he was 
told what to do. While waiting for that order, he performed marriages 
and birth celebrations for his few followers. He held weekly services. 
He dreamed constantly of starting a new priesthood and a new church 
that would sweep the ranks of Catholics and Protestants. 

Toward the end of the summer of 1969, Jonathan's "instructions" 
started to come in earnest. He was invited to spend three weeks in the 
Canadian wilds with a party of friends who annually went there to 
hunt and fish. 

Jonathan knew the moment he received the letter of invitation that 
this was it. Some inner voice kept telling him: "Go! Go! You will now 
find your mirror of eternity. Ordination to the supreme priesthood is at 
hand!" When asked if he heard an actual voice on this occasion, he 
denies this. It was an inner conviction coming with the same firmness 
of all his other "instructions" and exercising the same irresistible 
compulsion, far beyond the effect of mere words. 

With Jonathan, the hunting party numbered 12 people. They lodged 
at a base camp. Each day they split up into groups. Each group 
departed for two- to four-day treks in the wilderness. 

Apart from some fishing, Father Jonathan busied himself with 


painting and writing. But after the first week, he found himself 
venturing alone farther and farther from the base camp. He was 
looking for something or some place. When he came on it, he would 
recognize it, he knew. His walks always followed the course of a river 
on whose bank the base camp stood. He could easily find his way home 
by retracing his steps along the river. 

It was on one of these forays that he found his place — as he called it 
later. That name, "my place," has now a grisly significance for 
Jonathan: there his final immersion in demonic possession was 

One day after lunch, he had been walking for about three hours in a 
southerly direction along the river. For those hours, the course of the 
waters had run fairly straight. At a certain spot, however, Jonathan 
noticed that the river entered between two high ridges of ground and 
that within them it described an S-shape. When Jonathan reached the 
farther curve of the S-shape, his whole body and mind suddenly 
became electrified with a sense of discovery. He stood stock-still, one 
Latin word — sacerdos (priest) — ringing like a clear bell in his ears. 

That was it! This was the place! Here he would be ordained truly as 
priest of the New Being and Bishop-Leader of the New Time. This was 
it! He felt full of gratitude. 

The place was beautiful. The water in that corner was not more 
than a few feet deep. The center of the riverbed was a soft, shifting 
carpet of sand as white as salt. On each side, like rows of attendant 
black-cowled monks, there were tiers of boulders and rocks, rounded 
and smoothed by the overflow of water during the yearly flooding of 
the river. In the corners of the S-shape, on each bank, there was a 
small, shelving beach of that pure white carpet of sand sloping up out 
of the water to a rim of blue and black pebbles, then ferns and grass, 
then the pines, alders, sycamores, chestnuts. Everything burned in the 
sun, and silent shadows gloomed over rock and sand and river to make 
a patchwork of green half-darkness in the yellow light. 

Jonathan could see a hundred summer suns mirrored in the 
green-gray water, and each of them gave off a fire that dazzled him. 
The river moved slowly, but not sluggishly, all the while singing a 
pervasive refrain of calm and constancy. 

The place was Jonathan's "mirror of eternity," an opening in nature 
through which he could glimpse the strength of eternity, its softness 
and cleansing power, and the boundless spaces of its being. 


Jonathan fell stunned and crying on the beach. Stretched out full 
length, face down, his hands digging into the sand, he kept shouting: 
"Sacerdos! Sacerdos! Sacerdos! Sacerdos!" His cries ricocheted off the 
rocks and the trees, each echo coming back fainter and fainter as if 
traveling away with his petitions and hopes, until he found himself 
listening silently. 

The wetness of the sand soaked into his clothes, and the sun warmed 
his back. He began to feel a buoyancy all through his body: some 
mighty hand held him on its palm. He heard himself saying almost 
plaintively: "Make me . . . make me, please . . . make me . . . 
priest . . . priest-make ..." Every word was spoken into the white 
sand beneath his face. 

Now thoughts, emotions, imaginings, all seemed to be under the 
control of that hand. And he began to feel an emptying sensation. His 
past was being erased; his entire past, what he remembered and even 
what he had forgotten, all that had entered into the making of what he 
had been up to that moment, was being flushed from him. He was 
being emptied of every concept, every logical reasoning, every 
memory and image which his culture, his religion, his ambient, his 
reading had formed in him. 

Then, under some inner impulse which he questioned no longer, he 
rose and went slowly into the water. He stood in midstream looking at 
the sky for a moment. Obeying the inner voice, he bent down; his 
hands groped at the base of a rock and sought to reach to where its 
roots went deep in water. The river swirled caressingly over his 
shoulders and back. His chin now was almost level with the surface. 

"I was reaching for the veined heart of our world," he told me in 
one of our conversations, "to where Jesus, the Omega Point, was 
evolving and evolving, and was on the threshold of emerging." 

It seemed to him that "only this world was forgiving and cleansing," 
it alone had "united elements." He had the impression that now at last 
he had "broken through," and that the revelation of all revelations had 
been granted him: the real truth, the real god, the real Jesus, the real 
holiness, the real sacrament, the real being, and the new time in which 
all this newness would inevitably take over. 

He lost count of ordinary time, of the sun and the wind, of the river 
and its banks. The wind was a great rushing bird whose wings 
dovetailed into the green and brown arms of the trees on either side of 
him. The rocks became living things, his brothers and sisters, his 
millennial cousins, witnessing his consecration with the reverence that 


only nature had. And the water around him winked with gleaming 
eyes as it sang the song it had learned millions of years ago, from the 
swirling atoms of space, before there was any world and man to hear 
it. It was an irresistible ecstasy for Jonathan. 

He began to chant to himself: "Jesus! Jesus! Jesus!" Then this 
became "Lord of Light! Lord of Light! Lord of Light!" Once again he 
had no control. Every fiber and sinew in his body and mind was 
flooded with a dusky power. Now he was chanting: "Lord of Light! 
Lord of Jesus and of all things! Your slave! Your servant! Your 
creature! Your priest!" 

He felt a soft relaxation throughout himself; he had now no trace of 
tension, no anticipation, no forward-looking thought or emotion. All 
was wrapped up and contained in the now, the here-present. 

He rose to his feet in the shallow water and faced the bank; his 
hands, bleeding from his efforts to dig for the bottom of that rock, 
hung by his sides. He looked at the scratches and tears in his fingers 
and palms, loving the gleam of blood in the sunshine on the 
background of his clean skin. 

Slowlv he walked up the beach. For no reason his pace quickened. 
He started to trot. Once past the sand and on solid ground, he ran 
zigzagging through the trees, propelled by the force within him. The 
ground sloped upward. Still running, he was out of breath as he 
reached the top of the slope. He began to falter and stumble. 

He reached out for support. But on every side the tall, rough bodies 
of the pine trees, their branches many times his height off the ground, 
their heads lost in the sky, were the only things near to him; and they 
gave no help. 

Through the haze of his sweat and weariness he saw on the ridge he 
was approaching a small tree with branches near the ground. He 
stumbled, fell, got up, and labored until he fell against the tree trunk, 
his outstretched arms falling on the short branches sticking out on 
either side. He leaned there a while, his cheek against the tree, his 
armpits resting on the branches, catching his breath and sobbing half 
syllables, waiting for his strength to return. 

But he became aware that his face was lying against something 
smooth: this was no rough pine bark or knotty sycamore skin. He 
opened his eyes slowly, easing himself to a standing position and drew 
back from the tree wonderingly. 

With a growing horror he could not control, he now saw it in clear 
outline: a bare tree trunk, stripped of all its bark, severed to a quarter 


of its original height by some force — a lightning bolt, a random axe, 
some accident. It was a withered tree trunk with only two stubby 
arms. Blood stained the putty-white surface of those mute cross-pieces 
and its withered trunk. 

He was standing in front of a cross, he thought with a fierce horror 
and revulsion. There's blood on it. My blood? Or whose blood? His 
blood? Whose blood? The questions were hysterical cries of fear in his 

He started to shout. "Curse it! Curse him! Curse that blood! Curse 
that false Jesus!" The "remote control" was pouring the words into his 
brain, and he was echoing them with his lips. "Destroy it! Break those 
arms!" The instructions tumbled pell-mell. 

He stretched out his hands, gripped one arm of the tree, and began 
to pull while he shouted. "Curses on you! Curses on you! I am free of 
you! Lord of Light! Save me! Help!" The arm of the tree broke. He 
seized the other arm with both hands and started pulling and shouting. 
It gave without warning, and its release sent him flying backward, 
tumbling down the slope toward the river, his world now a careening 
tunnel of lights and blows and bumps, until he fell against a tree trunk 
and lost consciousness. 

The search party found him there a few hours later, just before 
sundown. He was semiconscious and weak, his two hands still holding 
a broken tree branch. They lifted him to a sitting position, his back 
resting against the tree that had broken his fall. He was facing the 
ridge. The sun was setting, but its last red-gold rays flowed thinly 
around the withered tree, its cross-arms now splintered stubs, its trunk 
stained with dark splotches. 

Jonathan did not notice it for a while until his vision focused. 
Gradually he became aware of tall figures around him, of voices 
speaking, of hands that were putting a flask of whisky to his lips, and of 
other hands tending to his bruises. He heard the sounds of branches 
being cut with axes. But his gaze fell on the tree. Alarm bells sounded 
in him. He began to struggle to his feet, his eyes fixed on that tree. 

The red light of the sun was rapidly fading to blue-black twilight, 
and the tree was dissolving into the ridge. One of the men in the 
search party saw Jonathan struggling to rise and noticed the fixity of 
his stare at the tree. 

"Don't worry, Father," he said, "it's only a tree. A dead tree. It's all 
right, I tell you. Take it easy, will you, Father! It's only a tree, Father." 
He exerted pressure on Jonathan and prevented him from standing up. 


Jonathan slumped back wearily and muttered: "Only a tree. Only a 
tree." Then he blacked out. They placed him on the makeshift 
stretcher they had fashioned and set off for the campsite. 

The end was not far off for Jonathan; but he did not seem to realize 
it. After a few days' rest at the base camp, the party journeyed to 
Manchester, New Hampshire. Jonathan was taken to his mother's 

He was extremely weak, suffered bouts of dizziness, had pains all 
over his body. He found it difficult to sleep at night and could not 
concentrate on reading or painting. The family doctor prescribed a 
two-month rest. 

Jonathan spent the first few weeks in bed under sedation. He was 
tended by his mother and a day nurse. Gradually his strength returned. 
By October's end he was up and around the house. In November he 
was strong enough to walk around the garden, and he started to read 
and paint again. 

His mother had been in touch with Father David at the seminary 
through her pastor. And the moment Jonathan (she also had to adopt 
his new name) was at all well, she telephoned David. He arrived one 
afternoon to see Jonathan. 

The meeting was a disturbing one for David, but for Jonathan it 
seemed to be an occasion of new strength, an eerie triumph bathed 
him even in his misery. He addressed David as "my son," using a 
paternalistic tone of voice that affected David in an unexpected way. 
It was the first time in all his years as an adult that David had felt real 

With this atmosphere as a brooding backdrop to their conversation, 
David and Jonathan chatted about Canada. The common report 
brought back by his companions had been that either Jonathan had 
been attacked by a wild animal, or that for some other reason he had 
panicked, taken to his heels, and knocked himself unconscious while 
running. After a few minutes with Jonathan, David was certain that 
something much more significant than a mere accident had happened, 
but Jonathan would not open up to him. 

After a while, Jonathan succeeded in shifting David's queries away 
from Canada and the recent trip. He began talking instead about his 
new apostolate and of his plans for a New York "mission." Then 
surprisingly, and in ways that seemed elusive to him, the conversation 
began returning to David himself. And once again David found that a 

134 THE cases 

whole part of his being was in total accord with all that Jonathan said. 
And again, in some other part of him, he felt a deep resistance. 

Finally Jonathan rounded on him at one moment: "Father David, 
my son, eventually you too will find the light, and come out into the 
open and preach the New Time and the New Being." 

David's conflict welled up full inside him, a welcoming chord for 
Jonathan's portentous words, and a hard, gripping fright. Supposing he 
could not stop himself going all the way into exactly what Jonathan 
was doing — whatever that was. What then? 

David recalls vividly the slow and deep nausea that built up inside 
him as he sat in that sick room surrounded by a quiet countryside. It 
was disgust riven with fear. He had had a similar but not quite 
identical experience once before, descending into a mass grave in 
Africa, at the tomb of an ancient tribal chieftain. Over the piles of 
bones of people sacrificed to ensure a chieftain's safe passage to 
eternal happiness, he had felt the touch of independent and sovereign 
evil, almost heard its voice in the fetid darkness saying silkily to him: 
"Come into my domain, David! You belong here!" And it kept coming 
into his mind that those long-buried men had never known anything 
about Jesus or Christianity. Some obscure conclusions had started to 
run around his head as he had stood in the tomb. But his nausea had 
not permitted him to examine them clearly. 

Now, trying to fathom the mystery, he looked at Jonathan. Who was 
possessed? Was either of them possessed? Was it all imagination? 
Jonathan, in spite of his illness, seemed erect, tall, the color back in his 
cheeks, his blue eyes gleaming, his long hair falling gracefully over his 
shoulders. All his strength and natural comeliness seemed restored. 
Facing him, David suddenly felt weak and puny and somehow dirty. A 
phrase of Jonathan's sent his courage reeling further. 

"Not for nothing, my son, have I been named Jonathan. You are 
David. And in the Bible they were bound together in the divine 

David turned away helplessly, fighting the floods of weakness and 
fear that engulfed him. He was seeking composure, but Jonathan's 
voice pursued, triumphant, resounding. 

"What happens to me, happens to you, my son. Don't you see? It is 
all foreordained. We have entered the Kingdom of the New Time and 
the New Being." 

David felt at the end of his resistance. The nausea was increasing. 


He was enmeshed in a trap he had not suspected. He went to the door, 
opened it, and spoke over his shoulder in a weak voice: 

"Jonathan. Let's agree on one thing. If you need help, I shall help. Is 
it a deal?" When there was no answer, he turned slowly around. 
"Jonathan! We have an appointment the day you — " 

He broke off. Jonathan was standing in the middle of the room, his 
eyes closed, his body swaying back and forth as if buffeted by a strong 

"Jonathan! Jonathan! Are you all right?" 

"Father David," the voice was almost a whisper and full of pain. 
"Father David, help me . . . not now . . . impossible now . . . 
too far . . . but at the moment . . . it's a deal . . . if . . ." 

The rest was lost in a mumbling confusion. Jonathan turned away 
and then slumped down into an armchair. David noticed Jonathan's 
right index finger was held in his left hand. 

The door opened. Jonathan's mother entered quietly, unhurriedly. 
Her face was a mask. "Don't worry, Father David," she murmured. 
"He will sleep now. And in the aftertime you can get back to him. Go 
and rest. You need it. You all need rest." 

He chatted for a few minutes with her, then left. She would keep 
him posted on Jonathan's movements. 

In the middle of December Jonathan left home again and went back 
to New York. For the next four months David followed Jonathan's 
activities. He was always available but never conspicuous, visiting 
New York regularly, keeping informed of Jonathan's whereabouts and 
activities. For the moment he could not intervene. That moment 
would come, he knew. 

He now was convinced that Jonathan had ceded full possession of 
himself to some evil spirit. He was half-convinced that he himself was 
affected by all this, but he did not understand exactly how. Not until 
the disastrous marriage ceremony by the sea was he to have the 
opportunity of helping Jonathan and of finding out exactly what had 
happened to himself. 

In mid-February, David heard quite by accident of the marriage 
ceremony Jonathan was going to perform at Dutchman's Point. The 
bride's father, a prominent broker, was an old acquaintance of David. 
He immediately telephoned the father and arranged to have lunch 
with him at his home in Manchester. David was received at first with 


great warmth as an old friend. But the conversation turned sour, as the 
reason for his visit became clear: David wanted the bride's father 
either to postpone the marriage or to engage another clergyman. 

Father Jonathan was a good priest, sniffed Hilda's father. Then, 
unpleasantly, he went on to grumble about the clergy in general, 
saying that at least Jonathan got the younger generation to say their 
prayers and to believe in God and take care of the environment — 
something "men of the cloth" did not ordinarily do. David argued, 
hinting at his basic fears and suspicions about Jonathan. But it was of 
no avail. The world was changing, he was told. What was all this 
sinister talk of evil and of the Devil? Father David did not believe, or 
did he, in all that nonsense anymore? David's only answer was an 
expression of his deep apprehension for Jonathan and for his friend's 

Then, if he was so afraid, the broker concluded as he rose from the 
table, why didn't Father David come himself? He was thereby invited. 
He would see, the broker added, his daughter would be all right. For 
once Hilda was going to be gloriously happy. She wanted things this 
way. She was to be married only once. 

'Til be there," answered David quietly. "Don't worry. But you will 
have to answer for the result." 

The broker stopped and looked at David, thought for a few seconds, 
then his face clouded over with anger. His words cut into David 
deeply. "Father David, I am a simple man as far as religion and 
religious matters go. Whatever happens in that area is the fault of all 
you clergy. You know" — he broke off, scrutinizing David's face and 
figure — "sometimes I have a feeling that yon people are the really lost 
ones. We lay people have some sort of protection. We were never in 
charge of religion, y'know." They parted. 


The exorcism of Father Jonathan began in the first week of April and 
ended only in the second week of May. Totally unforeseen by David, 
the exorcism of Jonathan proved to be relatively easy. It was David 
himself who was in jeopardy. His sanity, his religious belief, and his 
bodily life were in maximum danger. But thanks to David's sufferings, 
we can form a better idea of the mechanics of possession — at least of 


one type of possession: how it starts, how it progresses, and where, in 
the final analysis, the free choice of the possessed comes into play. 

While the exorcism of Jonathan was recorded on tape, for the 
details of David's four- week marathon struggle with himself we have 
to rely on the diary he kept so punctiliously during that time, together 
with what he told others of his experience, and my own conversations 
with him. 

When David and Jonathan left the marriage party on Massepiq 
beach, David drove directly to the seminary, where Jonathan and he 
stayed until the beginning of the exorcism. 

As they drove, Jonathan had one persistent question for David: 
what was the importance of starting before the sun was high in the 

David was frank: he did not know exactly; he might never know; 
but, with only his instincts to go on, David was certain that the light of 
the noonday sun had somehow become for Jonathan a vehicle for an 
evil influence. "For you, Jonathan, it has become contaminated," 
David said tersely. 

Jonathan wept at the implication of David's words. The light and 
warmth of the sun itself, the most beautiful things in Jonathan's world, 
had become evil for him. Still, following David's instructions, Jonathan 
kept the blinds drawn in his room at the seminary. He went outside to 
take fresh air only in the evening and at night. He avoided the high 
noonday sun. 

The pre-exorcism preparations to which Father David had become 
accustomed in his work as an exorcist in the diocese were completed 
by the end of March. Some of these steps — medical checkup, 
examination by psychologists, family background — had been taken 
during Jonathan's spectacular seizure the previous autumn. With 
cursory additions, the preparations were completed. It remained to 
choose a place, fix a day, and appoint assistants. 

David had an inner conviction that there would be little physical 
violence but much mental stress and a deep strain on his own spirit. 
He therefore asked a young psychiatrist friend and a middle-aged 
medical doctor to be his assistants. He had the services of his young 
priest assistant, Father Thomas, who was to succeed him in June as 
diocesan exorcist. 

The choice of the place of exorcism presented a problem. David 


favored the seminary oratory or a room in a remote wing of the 
seminary. Jonathan pleaded for the exorcism to take place in his 
mother's house, where he had been born and reared. All his 
associations, his beginnings, and his high hopes dwelt in that house 
that his father had designed and built himself. Besides, it stood in its 
own plot of land and enjoyed a privacy unavailable at the seminary. 

The bishop, ever calm, decided for them. "Whatever must come 
out, had better come out privately and discreetly. 1 don't want half my 
young seminarians getting nervous and running off half-cocked," he 
said to David. He added something which David had not expected 
from this worldly man whose chief claim to fame was his financial 
wizardry: "No superstition, mind you, Father David" — this with an 
arching of the eyebrows — "but his father built the house and raised his 
family there. He also has an interest in the whole matter. His ties are 
to it, surely." 

David reflected on the bishop's last remark; it bore out what he had 
surmised in other possession cases: there was an intimate connection 
between definite locales and the exorcism of evil spirits. 

They all agreed that Jonathan should remain at the seminary under 
surveillance by David and his young assistant priest until the eve of 
April 1, the day chosen for the exorcism. As that day approached, 
Jonathan became more and more listless, ate little, and relied more 
heavily on sleeping pills in order to secure a good night's rest. 

At 10:00 p.m. on March 31, David drove him to his mother's house. 
They were joined there that night by the assistants — a precaution 
David took, again by instinct. At 4:00 a.m. the following morning, 
awakened by some noise, they found Jonathan fully dressed and 
searching in the drawers of the kitchen closet. Whether he was looking 
for a knife to use on himself or others, or whether — as he said — he was 
preparing some food, David could never be sure. Anyway, since all 
were awake, David asked Jonathan's mother to make some breakfast. 
By 6:00 a.m. they were ready to begin. 

The arrangements were simple. The room had been cleared of 
furniture. Its terrazzo floor was bare of any carpet or rug. The window 
shutters were closed. Jonathan preferred to take a kneeling position, 
face sunk in his hands, at the small table on which David had placed 
his crucifix, the holy-water flask, the two candles, and the ritual book. 
The tape recorder was placed by the window. David wore cassock, 
surplice, and stole. He made no solemn entry. Standing at the opposite 
side of the table to Jonathan, his assistants gathered around them both, 


he got down right away to the business in hand. He recited the 
opening prayer, put down his book, looked straight at Jonathan, and 

"Jonathan, before we go any further, I want to ask thai you, in front 
of these witnesses, state quite clearly that you are here of your own 
accord, and that you wish me in the name of Jesus and with the 
authority of his Church to exorcise whatever evil spirits may possess 
you or hold any part of you, body and soul, in captivity. Answer me." 
David looked at Jonathan's bowed head. He could not see his face, 
only that golden hair, little strips of his forehead between the long, 
artistic fingers, and Jonathan's graceful hands cupping his face. 

"Jonathan, please answer us," he said after a silence. David held his 
breath in growing suspense. 

"I consent to be here" — Jonathan's voice was deep and melodious — 
"wishing that whatever evil or error is present be exorcised." David 
breathed easily again. But his uneasiness returned almost immediately, 
as Jonathan added: "Evil is subtle. Injustice is ancient. All wrongs 
must be righted. This is true Exorcism," 

"We are talking, Jonathan, precisely and only of Satan, the Prince of 
Darkness, the Angel of Light," David hastened to say with severity. 
He noticed that Jonathan stirred a little, as if listening intently. "We 
are proposing to discover that presence and to expel it by the power of 
Jesus. Do you consent?" 

"I consent." 

A pause. Then when David was about to put his next question, 
Jonathan started again. "Poor Jesus! Poor, poor Jesus! Served so badly. 
Described so poorly. Disfigured so brashly. Poor Jesus! Poor, poor 

David stopped abruptly. Jonathan's voice was still bell-like and 
silvery. David decided to take another tack. 

"Now, Jonathan, by the power invested in me by the Church of 
Jesus, and in the name of Jesus, I wish to put you a second question. 
Have you knowingly, consciously, within your living memory, ever 
conceded anything to, or agreed, or even trifled with the Evil One?" 

Jonathan's voice came back, musical and calm. "To do that to Jesus 
would be a betrayal of myself, of my flock, of Jesus' goodness, of the 
world, of life itself, of our eternal peace ..." 

"Jonathan, I want an answer, an unequivocal answer to my 
question. This is important." 


"On the contrary, Jesus has come to me, and I have become his 
priest. Praise Jesus! Praise the Lord of our world!" 

David had to be satisfied with this answer, so he went on to the next 

"Then, Jonathan, we will repeat, first, the Credo, and then your 
baptismal vows." David hoped in this way to avoid the necessity of 
going through the formal ritual of Exorcism. After all, he reasoned, if 
Jonathan could answer thus far satisfactorily, then the possession 
might just be a partial thing. 

David took up the first phrases of the Credo. "I believe in God, the 
Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven and Earth." There he paused, 
waiting for Jonathan. But Jonathan had seemingly started before he 
had ended the phrases, and all that David could hear were the words 
"the Earth." He started the next phrase, "And in Jesus Christ," but 
broke off because Jonathan was still talking on. 

"Two or three billion years ago, the Earth. Each one of us 50 trillion 
cells. 150 million in Caesar's day. 3,600 million in our day. 200 million 
tons of men, women, and children. Two trillion tons of animal 
life ..." 

"Jonathan, let's get on with it . . ." 

"All so that Jesus can emerge. Oh, beautiful Omega! Praise Jesus! 
Praise the Lord of this world with which we are all, all 200 million tons 
of us, are one." 

David stopped and looked hard at Jonathan. He still had his face 
sunk in his hands and was still talking. 

"Oh, what they've done to it. Jews and Christians. These Judeo- 
Christians." Jonathan's voice now sank to a whisper of disgust. "The 
pontiff of creation — that's what they made every man and woman." 
Jonathan's shoulders shook; he was sobbing. 

Again as before, David felt a strangely welcoming agreement in 
himself for each statement of Jonathan's. Some hidden part of him he 
had not known was saying again with insistence, "Yes! Yes!" 

Jonathan's voice took on a speed and haste of assertion. "And what 
started as a pioneering weed, a trial species with toads and cock 
robins, zooming upward to the Jesus Point, suddenly turned and made 
the planet its playground, the stage of its jig-acting, its domain." The 
voice sank again to a whispered prayer. "Poor Jesus! Poor world! 
Praise the Lord of the World for Light! Poor Jesus!" 

The surge of agreement in David started to sour. What was it Father 
G. had said? David's memory started to spin and turn. Panic seized 


him. He rummaged desperately through his recollections like a man 
plowing through a pile of old papers in search of a sorely needed 
document. He searched back to the beginning, back to the first 
instructions bustly Father G. had ever given him. What was it? 

Jonathan's voice broke in on him. 

"Father David, you are not with me. Please be with me!" It was 
insistent. David glanced again at the graceful hands covering the face 
and intertwined with the golden hair. Jonathan looked like an angel of 
God clad in light, doing penance on his knees for the sins of men. 
David wanted to say to him: "Yes! Jonathan, don't fear! I am with you! 
Yes!" The words rose to his lips like a drink offered. But a quick wave 
of uneasiness hit him again; and again that question came back like a 
boomerang: What did Father G. warn him against? What had he said? 
What was it? Jonathan's voice broke in again. 

"Father G. is past and gone." David was shocked by Jonathan's 
reading of his own inmost thoughts. "Back to the womb of all of us. 
Let the dead bury the dead, Father David. You and I. We live. Let us 
walk in the light, while we have it." 

Jonathan talked on now, intermingling Scripture with his words. 
David turned away as if warding ofT some influence coming at him 
from Jonathan; and his mind reeled as he tried to regain his lost 
ground. He looked up at the ceiling. He felt at bay: there was only 
Jonathan and himself, and between them a strange ether, an invisible 
corridor of communication. And, all the while, his memory was still 
groping and working overtime, looking for a firm hold for his mind and 
will. Ah! At last! That's what Father G. had said: "The Angel of 
Light." TJiat's what he wanted to remember. "The Angel of Light." 
And Father G. had warned him, too: "Your great danger, David, is 
that you think too much. Too much of the old cerebellum in you. 
Listen to your heart. The Lord speaks to your heart." 

A strong feeling of relief passed over David. A space was being 
opened up inside him — free, untrammeled, easy, roomy, fresh, private 
— untouched by that coiling dark pathway of communication between 
him and Jonathan. 

Then a sharp word — his own name pronounced like the snapping of 
a horsewhip — hit his ears. 

"David! David!" It was Jonathan. This time the voice had an 
admonitory note, the tone used by a master or a superior. The roles 
were curiously reversed. 

David heard his young assistant priest whispering in his ear: "David, 


he's shaking. Do you think he's all right? The doctor is afraid . . ." 
David motioned to him, and looked at Jonathan again closely. 
Jonathan's face was still hidden in his hands, but he seemed to David 
and the assistants to be racked with sobs and sorrow. 

David decided to try another approach. He had to get a toehold. 
Somehow he had to get Jonathan to resist the evil spirit possessing 
him; he had to force that spirit out into the open. And he had to keep 
control of himself in order to do that. 

In retrospect, given David's nature, his action was almost inevitable. 
And given the reality of his situation as distinct from that of Jonathan, 
what followed was both inevitable and necessary. 

He drew near Jonathan. Commiseration and compassion were 
uppermost in his mind. He put a hand lightly on Jonathan's shoulder 
and spoke. 

"Jonathan, my friend. Don't give in to sorrow. I will never leave off 
or abandon my efforts. I will not desert you now until ..." 

"I know you won't . . ." Jonathan's voice seemed to be forced out 
between the violent contraction of his chest and throat. "I know you 
won't because'' — Jonathan paused and drew a deep breath — 'mt/ 
brother, you can't. You can't." It was a dreadful rasp, a curious hiss 
that reached like a hand inside David's mind. David started to 
withdraw his hand; and as he did, he felt strange impulses in his mind: 
a fierce persuasion beat at him that he and Jonathan were the only 
sane people in that room. The others, his young colleague, the doctor, 
the psychiatrist, were mannequins, plastic models of reality, pica- 
resque heroes in a cosmic joke. Only Jonathan and himself. Only 
Jonathan and David. 

"You've got it, David!" whispered Jonathan. A rasp. A hiss. 

Who was in control? 

"Got what?" David hardly had the words out of his mouth when he 
felt some understanding beyond words, some common current of 
thought, as if David and Jonathan were sharing a common brain or 
some higher intuitive faculty that dispensed with the need for word 
of mouth. "Got what?" David said it over and over again. It was a sort 
of cry, a protest against deception. For in those moments it all became 
clear to him. He knew for the first time: he himself was being slowly 
pervaded by the same spirit of evil which held Jonathan; and he 
understood Jonathan knew that also. 

Jonathan lifted his face suddenly and looked at David. His right 
hand, with the crooked index finger, came down tightly on David's 


hand as it rested on his own shoulder. David was like a man who saw a 
ghost: suddenly pale, shrunken, staring eyes, tight-lipped, short of 
breath, sweating profusely. For the face he saw on Jonathan was 
wreathed and twisted, not by sorrow or tears of pain, but in smiles and 
merriment. He had not been racked with sobs but with suppressed 
laughter. And that laughter now broke from his lips with a gust of 
relief. He shouted into David's face. 

"You're the same as me, David! Father David!" David's young 
assistant, Thomas, drew near to David. The doctor and the psychiatrist 
fell back, overcome by surprise, looking incredulously from David to 
Jonathan and back to David. David shrugged off the offer of help from 
Father Thomas. 

"You have adopted the Lord of Light, like I have, you old fool!" 
shrieked Jonathan between his cackling laughter. He loosened his grip 
on David's hand and rose to his feet. "Physician, cure yourself!" 

Jonathan roared in amusement. His laughter filled the little room; he 
doubled over in merriment, slapping his knee, tears running down his 
face. "Ha-ha! David, you're a joke. You're a soul-fellow of mine. You 
don't believe one goddamn lousy thing of that childish hocus-pocus." 
Each word hit David like a physical blow. "Hoc est corpus meum! 
You're as liberated as I am, man. You belong to the New Being and the 
New Time." 

Suddenly Jonathan quieted down. "And you were trying to exorcise 
me?" The contempt that replaced the laughter was enormous. He 
leaned forward, thrusting his face close to David's. In a slow, 
deliberate tone, emphasizing every word: "Get out of here, you puny 
weakling! Get out of here with these scarecrows you brought with you. 
Go bind up your wounds. Go find if your sugary Jesus will cure you. 
G-e-t o-u-t!" The last two words were two slowly delivered, heavily 
loaded syllables of contempt and dismissal. 

David was now like a man trying to stand up after a heavy physical 
blow. "Come, Father David," the younger priest said quietly but 
urgently, as he took in the look of superiority and command in 
Jonathan's face. "Let's go, David," said the doctor. 

David turned for an instant and looked at Jonathan. The others saw 
no fear on David's face, only puzzlement and pain. Their look 
followed David's. There stood Jonathan watching their retreat. His 
whole appearance had changed. His head was uplifted. He was 
standing tall and erect. His, golden hair fell around his shoulders like a 
halo catching the winking light of the candles. His blue eyes were 

144 THE cases 

shining with hazy light. His right hand was raised in such a way that 
his stiffened index finger was laid across his throat. His left hand hung 
by his side. 

"Go in darkness, you fool!" Jonathan screamed in a high falsetto. 
His right hand descended in a vicious gesture and swept the 
candlesticks off the table onto the floor. The candles went out and the 
room was in semidarkness. The young priest had the door open. All 
four men moved out quickly. "In darkness! Fools!" Jonathan's voice 
pursued them. As they emerged, they suddenly realized that the 
temperature of the day was already hot; inside, in the room, they had 
been cold. 

David literally stumbled into the lighted hallway and leaned against 
the wall. Beside the hatrack, Jonathan's mother was sitting in a 
straight-backed ornamental chair. Her hands held a rosary on her lap. 
Her head, eyes closed, was bowed. After a few moments, she raised 
her head and, without looking around at David, she spoke in a quiet 
voice full of resigned sorrow. 

"He's right. My son. The devil's slave. He is right, Father David. 
You need cleansing. God help you." Then, as if she sensed some 
apprehension in David and the others for her sanity or her faith, she 
added: "I am his mother. No harm can come to me." It was an 
instinctual thing she said, but David was certain she was correct. 

David stumbled past her. Nobody looked at her. His companions 
eased David into a car and drove him to the seminary. Once in his 
room, he sat wearily with the young priest for about half an hour. 

"What are we going to do, Father David?" Thomas finally asked. 
David made no reply. He was now wholly occupied with himself and 
with the black reality he had discovered inside himself. He looked at 
the young priest and felt strangely out of place. What had he in 
common with that fresh face, the black cassock, the white round 
collar, and — above all — that look in the young priest's eyes? What was 
that look, anyway? He screwed up his eyes staring at Thomas. What 
was that look? Had he ever had it himself? Was it all a joke? A mere 
charade or piece of imposed childishness? Young priests must believe 
— like young children. Then they grow up — as children do. And then 
they stop having that look. Stop "believing"? 

"You are surrounded by quotation marks, Thomas," he said stupidly 
to the younger priest. Then he lapsed into silence still staring at his 
colleague. What in the hell was believing anyway? That inane look! 
What was that look! As if all was sugar and spice and goo and kindness 


and pie-in-the-sky-when-you-die and infantile trust. Why was that 
look so open and wide-eyed? 

"Stop looking like a fool!" David shot the words at Thomas. Then he 
realized what he had done. "Sorry, Thomas," he mumbled lamely, 
seeing the young face pale. David began to cry in silence. 

"Father David," Thomas drew in a breath. "I have no experience. 
But you need a rest. Let me phone your family." David nodded 

In the early afternoon David was driven up to Coos County, back to 
his home on the farm. His parents were delighted to see him. They 
now lived alone except for one sleep-in help and a gardener who 
stayed at the farm. 

That night David went to bed in the room he had occupied during 
his childhood and youth. But some time after midnight he woke up 
covered with perspiration and shaking like a leaf. He did not know 
why, but a deep sense of foreboding filled his mind. He got up, went 
down to the kitchen, and heated some milk. As he returned to his 
room, he stopped at the door of Old Edward's room. He stood there 
for a moment, sipping the milk and thinking in a vague, undirected 
way. As he describes it now, his mind was still clearing, like a jumbled 
TV picture slowly coming into focus. Then, with nothing particular in 
mind, but only by some blind impulse, he opened the door of the 
room, reached for the light switch, and stepped inside. 

The room was much the same as it had been the evening of 
Edward's death, except for one change: a large photograph of Edward, 
taken a few months before he had passed away, hung over the 
mantelpiece. It looked down at David. He sat for about an hour in that 
room. Then, under the same blind impulse, still unhurriedly, he went 
to his own room, transferred his bedclothes and personal effects to 
Edward's room, and then went to sleep there. 

David stayed almost four weeks on the farm. In the beginning, he 
went out every day for long walks and to do some manual work on the 
farm. Sometimes he passed by the copse at the west end of the house, 
but never entered it. He would stand a while ruminating and then go 
on his way. He looked up some old friends, and spent a good part of 
the evenings with his parents. 

Toward the end of the first week, this loose and varied schedule 
changed. He began to spend most of the day and night in his room, 
coming out for his meals, rarely going outside the house. Then about 
the third week, he did not emerge at all except to use the bathroom. 


He did not open the shutters in his room. He ate sparingly, and toward 
the end lived on milk and biscuits and some dried fruit which his 
mother left on a tray outside the door of his room. 

From the beginning of his stay he had warned his parents not to be 
alarmed by his living habits. On his first day there, he had gone to see 
Father Joseph, the local priest, whom he had taught in the seminary. 
During the last ten days of David's stay at the farm, that priest was the 
only human being who visited and spoke with David. 

David kept a minutely detailed diary during those four weeks; and, 
except for certain moments when he lost control of himself (of those 
moments he has no clear recollection), there is a more or less 
continuous chronology of events — the inner experience David went 
through and the external phenomena that marked this crucial period. 

During all this time, down in Manchester, Jonathan lived at home 
with his mother. 

Comparison of how David and Jonathan spent specific days and 
hours during those weeks has been difficult to achieve, but there is 
clear indication that certain states through which David passed 
coincided — sometimes to the hour — with strange moments and behav- 
ior in Jonathan's life. Our chief intent, however, is to trace David's 
experience, for, in the technical language of theology, Father David 
M. was deprived of all conscious belief. His religious faith was tested 
in an assault which nearly succeeded in robbing him of it all. Mentally 
and emotionally, he found himself in the state of one without any 
religious belief whatever. To this extent, David, who still felt that his 
vocation as priest was valid, had handed over his mind and emotions to 
some form of possession. 

There would have been no struggle, much less any agony, if David's 
will had not remained stubbornly attached to his religious beliefs. Inch 
by inch, figuratively speaking, he had to fight for survival of his faith 
against a spirit to which he himself had granted entry and which now 
made a bid to take him over completely. Consciously he had been 
admitting ideas and persuasions for a long time. He had not realized 
until now that all such motivating ideas and persuasions, for all their 
guise of "objectivity," had a moral dimension and a relation to 
spirit — good and evil. He had failed all along to realize that nothing is 
morally neutral. With these ideas, persuasions, and deficiencies as a 
most suitable vehicle, there had entered him some spirit, alien to him, 
but now claiming full control over him. 

During those four weeks on the Coos farm, David's entire life as a 


believer flashed by him continually and ever more intensely like 
photographs being flipped with the thumb — childhood, schooldays, 
seminary training, ordination, doctoral studies, anthropology trips, 
lectures, what he had written in articles and books, the conversations 
he had held, constantly changing panels. When he reached the end, 
they began all over again. 

Cameos. Little scenes. Faces long forgotten. Words and sentences 
echoing back in half-complete fashion. Vivid memories. Each one with 
an individual conclusion. The day he told Sister Antonio in the 
convent school that Jesus could not possibly fit into the communion 
wafer. David was eight years old. Sister had patted his head: "David, 
be a good boy. We know what is right." They had given him no choice 
and no answer. No choice. No choice, rang the silent echo. 

His interview with the bishop for acceptance into the seminary: "If 
you become a priest, you are called to a perfection of spirit not 
granted to the majority of Christians." Spirit is not elitist. Not elitist. 
Not elitist. Not elitist, went the echo. 

The echoes rang through the hall of years in David's brain, as the 
"photographs" continued to flash before him. 

He remembered the moment he became convinced that there were 
no reliable records about Jesus written during Jesus' own lifetime. In 
the four Gospels, the Acts of the Apostles, and the letters of Paul, 
there was only what men and women believed and thought they knew 
30, 40, 60 years after Jesus' death. Even if they believed they knew, 
how could David be sure that they knew? He was thinking and 
believing only what they thought and believed. "I have no records. It 
sounds like delusion." Delusion. Delusion. Delusion. The word was a 
hammer blow in David's whorl of memories. 

Then another flash of memory, another change, another bit of evil. 
Eleven years before, David had gone on a tour through the places 
where Jesus had lived and died. Immediately afterward, he had visited 
Rome and spent long days viewing its monuments, basilicas, and 
treasures. He followed the ceremonies in St. Peter's Basilica. As he 
started home for America, one question dominated everything for him: 
What possible relationship could there be between Jesus' obscure life 
on that stark, poverty-stricken, barren land, and the panoply and glory 
of papal Rome? Perhaps he understood only now, but he had come to 
a covert conclusion on that home journey: there was no real 
relationship. Now his memory kept on repeating with little bursts of 
pain: no relationship, no relationship, no relationship. 


Four years before, he had opened up an ancient tomb in northeast- 
ern Turkey. Inside, he and the other archeologists had found a buried 
chieftain surrounded by the bones of men and animals slaughtered for 
his funeral. The bones, the weapons, the utensils, the dust, and the 
pathos of it all had gripped him. These had been men like himself. 
They had had no knowledge of Jesus. How could they be judged for 
not knowing anything about Jesus and Christianity? Surely what David 
had thought of Jesus was too small a concept? Surely the truth was 
greater than any dogma? Than any concept of Jesus as man or as God, 
or any form that Jesus took? It had to be so. Otherwise, there was no 
sense in anything. Greater than Jesus. Greater than Jesus. Greater than 
Jesus. Another jarring echo ringing in his memory. 

There gradually emerged a fatal thread that stitched together all the 
echoing resentments, all the complaints of reason, all the arrogance of 
logic stripped to its own marrow. And the fabric of faith slipped away 
unnoticed as this new cloth draped his mind and soul. The thread was 
David's acceptance of Teilhard de Chardin's theories. Accepting 
them, he could no longer tolerate the break between the material 
nature of the world, on the one hand, and Jesus as savior, on the other 
hand. Materiality and divinity were one; the material world together 
with man's consciousness and will, both emerging from sheer material- 
ity as automatically as a hen from an egg; and Jesus' divinity emerging 
from his human being as naturally as an oak tree from an acorn, as 
inevitably as water flowing downward. 

Jesus — so suddenly integral to the universe, so intimate with its 
being, so totally physical — was different from what religious dogma 
had said he was, greater than Christian belief had ever before 
understood. Jesus, each man, each woman, all were brothers to the 
boulders, sisters of the stars, "co-beings" with all animals and plants. 
All understanding became easy. It all came down to the atom; and it 
all came up from the atom as well. Everything fell into place. 

So much for Teilhard, David thought bitterly. 

With an anguish he could not assuage, David realized the conse- 
quences of all this only now in the lonely struggle and painful vigil for 
his soul. Any real reverence and awe had evaporated from his religious 
mentality. For the world around him he had only a sense of joyous 
kinship — mingled with a certain foreboding. For Jesus, only a 
satisfying feeling of triumph, just as for any ancient and beloved hero. 
For the Mass, an indulgent feeling akin to what he experienced when 
observing commemorative services on any July Fourth. The Crucifix- 


ion and the death of Jesus were glorious events in the past, ancient 
demonstrations of heroic love, not an ever-present source of personal 
forgiveness and not an unshakable hope for any future. 

Isolated with his thoughts and memories, David's question for 
himself was not where or how things had gone wrong, but how to 
retrieve his strength in faith. As the years passed continually by his 
view like so many panels from right to left, David seemed to be close 
up to them, scrutinizing each detail. 

As the days passed, those panels in the panorama moved faster and 
faster, on and on, repeating over and over. He could still read the 
details. Each phrase sounded and receded as its corresponding panel 
came and went. No choice. Not elitist. Delusion. No relationship. 
Greater than Jesus. Brothers to the boulders. 

Sometime after midnight at the beginning of the third week at the 
Coos farm, David seemed suddenly to be drawing away from his 
close-up scrutiny of the changing panels, or they were withdrawing 
from him, receding into some background darkness he had not noticed 
before. He realized he had not been looking at panels passing 
horizontally in front of him from right to left. He had been close to a 
revolving sphere that was now drawing away from him. Distancing 
itself from him and still revolving, it depicted all the phases of his life 
continuously and without interruption around the smooth convex 
surface of that brightly lit ball. 

From its dreamy depths came the sounds of all his yesteryears — 
words, voices, languages, music, crying, laughing. The sphere had a 
mesmeric quality of a carousel giving off a creamy light. David seemed 
to be looking at himself out there. 

Yet a tiny voice kept whispering within him: Why me? Why am I 
attacked? Why me? Where is Jesus? What is Jesus? And all around 
that revolving sphere lay the unfathomable velvet of a night he had 
never known. 

Staring at the sphere, he knew that in some mysterious way he was 
staring at the self he had become. Of the room around him, the feel of 
the chair in which he sat, the nib of his clothes against his skin, of such 
things finally he was not even indirectly conscious. 

Now, without either pause or abruptness, the light from that 
revolving sphere started to grow dim. More and more of the blackness 
around it started to patch its panels with shadows, crow's-feet of 
obscurity, little running lines of invisibility. The self he had been and 
known was being volatilized into blackness. David felt panic, but 


seemed to be incapable of doing anything about what was happening 
to him. 

Then he had the feeling that he was no longer looking out or up or 
at anything, but that he now was out there hanging in that blackness. 
Feeding his helplessness and panic was the conviction that he was the 
cause of this black void and that he needed it. Otherwise, it seemed to 
him, he would drop into nothingness. 

Then finally, all he had ever been or known of himself had 
disappeared. The self to which he was now reduced hung by an 
invisible thread — but only as long as he could maintain that blackness. 
David's panic was marinated in a tide of sullenness rising in him, 
sullenness at being deprived of light, of salvation, of grace, of beauty, 
of motives for holiness, of knowledge about physical symmetry, and all 
perception of God's eternity. His reaction to this sullenness: Why me? 

He was waiting, expecting, almost listening. Hours. Days. His 
waiting became so intense, so oppressive that he gradually realized he 
was not waiting of his own volition. The waiting was being evoked 
from him by someone or something outside him. Yet each time he tried 
to figure out or imagine who or what was evoking the waiting, his very 
effort at imagining clouded everything over. The only thing he could 
do was wait, be made to wait, to expect. 

And there set in on him a sadness he could not dispel. He no longer 
felt any confidence in himself or in anything he knew. For all seemed 
to be reduced to a situation without circumstances, a pattern without 
a background, a framework sodden with emptiness through which 
rushed gusts of an alien influence he could neither repel nor control. 
He was helpless. And eventually he would fall asleep, awakening only 
with the light of day streaming in through the bay window. 

In the morning he would know it was all real: he was isolated from 
all he had ever made his own and from all he had ever been. And he 
had to wait. But, obscurely and earnestly, he realized that whatever it 
was he awaited, could come to him only under these conditions. 

A conversation David had with Father Joseph at the end of the third 
week reveals the crux of David's struggle and his state of mind toward 
the last phase of his four-week test. It was Father Joseph's third visit. 
Each time, he had questioned David about the experience he was 
undergoing, and each time he himself had left the house overwhelmed 
by a sorrow and inner pain which he found intolerable. And David had 
warned him: "Don't delve very deeply, Father. You can only get hurt. 


And come to see me in the mornings. In the afternoon I doze a little. 
Evenings and nights are too much for anybody but me." 

This time, stepping into David's room from the sunlit corridor 
outside, Father Joseph took a moment to get used to the sernidarkness. 
Little lines of sunlight ran around the edges of the shutters. In the far 
corner beside the fireplace, he saw David sitting at a small table, 
hunched over a page of writing. A single candle stood on the table; it 
was all the light David allowed himself, 

David stood up and pointed Joseph to an armchair when the priest 
entered. "Have a seat, Father." Their eyes did not meet while he 

David had not shaved for a couple of days. He was gaunt and 
hollow-cheeked. There was very little color in his face. But it was the 
immobility of his features that first struck his visitor. His cheeks, 
forehead, nose, chin, and neck seemed to be frozen into motionless- 
ness, as if too much inner determination and too much constant 
resistance had resulted in a total hardening of his appearance, a setting 
of his face into an expressionless shape. 

His eyes particularly held Father Joseph. They seemed to have 
grown larger, the lids, heavier, the whites, whiter, the pupils, darker 
than they had been. Obviously David had been crying a good deal. But 
at this moment his eyes were clear, steady in gaze, remote in look. 

There was no hint of a smile or of any pleasant emotion, but neither 
was there any unpleasantness. Nor fear. Nor pain. Nor were David's 
eyes blank. They had an expression; but that expression was totally 
unknown to Joseph. He had never seen it before in anybody's eyes. 
And he was at a loss to explain it or describe it. He was looking at the 
eyes of someone who had seen things of which he could have no 

He knew better than to indulge in pleasantries, even to ask David 
how he was. They both sat there in silence, both understanding what 
was in the other's mind. 

From outside, some isolated sounds penetrated faintly into the 
room, a truck passing on the road, the twittering of some birds, a dog 
barking on a distant farm. 

"I don't think the real attack has come yet, Father Joe," David said 
slowly to his visitor, in whose mind this was, in fact, the uppermost 
question. Then he added as if to answer a query: "Yes, I will know, 
because the others will come at the same time." 


They both waited. David's visitor knew from previous conversations 
who "the others" were. David was convinced that his release from this 
trial could only come through the spirits of Salem Old Edward had 
mentioned on his deathbed. But somehow or other Old Edward was 
now associated in David's mind with those spirits. 

Then David said: "It's been bad but bearable up to this." Father 
Joseph shot a discreet look at David: his eyes were hooded as he gazed 
down at the table. Joseph looked away in an embarrassment he himself 
could not understand. David's voice was deep, very deep, and every 
word came out as if a special effort was needed to form it. 

"No," David went on, answering another unspoken query of 
Joseph's. "There is nothing you can do. Must fight it alone. Pray. 
That's all. Pray. A lot. Pray for me." 

There was another long silence. By now, Joseph knew that the 
silence between them was chockful of a conversation he could not pin 
down. He could not make out how it progressed or what it concerned 
exactly. Joseph was a simple man without any subtle ideas and with no 
complexities in spirit. His heart and instincts had not been smothered 
in any pseudointellectualism. He did realize that it was a conversation 
so subtle and intimate that it flew high above all words, in fact did not 
need words. It passed between them in another medium. But Joseph 
warily refused even to visualize that medium. He felt that too near an 
acquaintance with it would mean he would never be able to talk with 
words again. Words were beginning to be crude, vulgar lumps of 
sound, insensitive, uncouth, meaningless. David and Joseph were both 
walking at that moment beyond the thin edge dividing language from 
meaning, and meaning was now a cloud enveloping them both. 

Father Joseph waited until he felt from David that he should leave. 
Then he started to rise unhurriedly. David said: "Say a Mass for them. 
They need prayers. I failed them. Now I need them, their help, and 
their forgiveness." Joseph looked at him questioningly, then stopped 
the words rushing to his lips. Joseph now believed that David had 
already been "visited." 

For the next week, his fourth at the farm, David's days and the 
greater portion of his nights were spent on the chair by the bay 
window. For the last day or so before the final struggle, a curious 
silence had fallen over him. It was not ominous or fear-filling. But it 
was so profound and so devoid of any movement in his thoughts, 
emotions, and memories that the doubt and uncertainty it provoked in 
him took on proportions of agonizing anticipation. 


Yet no amount of anticipation quite conveyed the anguished reality 
of his 'Visitors" and their 'Visit." 

The first hint of their presence came about eleven o'clock one night. 
All that day a storm had raged around the farm. The storm had 
prevented Father Joseph from making his promised weekly visit. 
David had spent the time contemplating the sheeting rain and the 
lightning flashes from his window. Then, except for a distant rumble of 
thunder and an occasional, sudden, whipping shower, the storm was 

David sensed the cloak of exhaustion that always fell quietly on the 
countryside after it had been thrashed and seared and smothered by 
wind, lightning, thunder, and rain. Usually the land shook off that 
cloak quickly and resumed its habitual night stance as a repository of 
energies hatching, breathing, coiling, exercising, pulsating, self-renew- 
ing, waiting for the sun and the light of the new day. 

He waited for the inevitable rustling and quickening in the fields 
outside the house. But tonight the silence of exhaustion seemed to 
prolong itself. A commanding hand had stopped the course of nature 
in order to make way for special visitors. And, in David's conscious- 
ness, all these changes resided as mere overtones to his mood. 

The most acute and self-aware point in his being was still a pulse of 
expectancy, of waiting that grew deeper and deeper with the 
prolonged silence over the land. Once more David seemed to hang 
over that pitch-black void. Waiting seemed once more to be his very 
essence, the only reason for his continued existence. ''As long as I can 
wait . . ." was his mood. Waiting, straining, to hear, to see. 

After perhaps an hour, he knew that somewhere near him there was 
a curious sound. 

At first, when he heard it, his attention did not pick it up. It was so 
faint, it might have been the sound and feel of the blood pumping in 
his own ears. But after a few seconds, he began to distinguish it. His 
body stiffened as the sound grew ever so slightly louder. 

He could not identify the sound. Within him, yet in some way 
connected with the faint sound, little wisps of memory touched his 
consciousness briefly, tantalizing him as they skipped by, leaving him 
all the tenser. He seemed to remember. Little splinks, jagged 
fragments of shattered mirrors reflecting some shadow life; but he 
could not make out exactly what was being recalled to him. 

He realized that the act of trying to remember was itself a blockage 
to remembering, the act of thinking a hindrance to knowing. At one 

154 THE cases 

point, the sound died away completely. He was suddenly alone. And 
he found himself falling back on the chair brusquely. He had been half 
out of it, apparently, in his craning forward to listen. His palms and 
forehead were wet. And his yearning to know seemed infinitely sad. 

Then the sound started again. David realized now it was coming 
from no particular direction. Not from outside the house. Not from 
inside it. Nor could he say it was coming from all directions at once. 
He felt foolishly that in some way or other it was a permanent sound 
that had always been there around him. He always had heard it. But 
he had never listened to it, or ever allowed himself even to 
acknowledge that he heard it. 

He turned his head right and left. He twisted around, listening to 
the interior of the room. And with a sudden violence he understood 
why the sound seemed to come from no direction. For the first time in 
his life, he knew what it was to hear a sound registering in his brain 
and mind without any of the normal exterior conditions of hearing — 
no sound waves, no exterior source of sound, no function of his 
eardrums. Beyond all doubts or caviling, he knew that it was real 
sound which could not be heard with the external ear. 

The physical strangeness of that new hearing had a mysterious 
warmth of reality. It was more real than any other sound he could ever 
hear in the physical world. It broke the silence of the night and his 
vigil more penetratingly than if a gunshot had exploded outside the 
window. Intensely pleasurable, because so secret. Deeply relieving, 
because it dismissed the silence around him in a fashion so intimate to 
him alone. Absorbing, because it came from no place, yet filled all his 
inner hearing. But cowing, because in some transcendent way it had 
no tenderness. 

That sound was a whole revelation. He now understood that there 
was a knowledge of material things and a way of having that 
knowledge — in this case, of sounds — which did not come through his 
senses. His fear and distrust battled with this realization whenever a 
stray sound — the cry of a bird in the night, the hooting of an 
owl — struck his hearing in the normal way. These new, fearful, 
wallowing sounds seemed to belong to the very substance of audible 
things and his hearing of them to be absolutely true hearing. The 
external sounds of the night — even the occasional shuffle of his own 
feet on the floor — seemed to belong to a fleeting world, artificial, not 
real at all, but constructed merely by external stimuli and by his own 
physical reactions. 


The babel of internal sounds was growing, and the "artificial" world 
of his normal life appeared to be like a flimsy trellis with wide gaps or 
a wall made of widely separated wires. A crude, blustering, over- 
whelming new reality was rushing in through the holes. 

With that, David began to understand vaguely what possession 
meant, for that inrushing babel was in control of him. He could not 
eliminate it, repel it, examine and analyze it, decide he liked it or 
disliked it. It allowed him no reflection or rejection, did not elicit 
acceptance, caused neither pleasure nor pain, disgust nor delight. It 
was neutral. Because neutral, it was baleful. And it began to shade his 
mind and will with its own neutrality of taste and judgment more 
wasting than an Arctic wind. Whatever beauty, harmony, and 
meaning had been associated in his memory with sound now began to 
wither. He felt that withering keenly. He knew its dreadful implica- 

"My God! Jesus!" he suddenly screamed to himself without sound. 
"My God! If all my senses — sight, hearing, smell, taste, touch— are 
invaded like that, I'd be possessed. I'd be possessed. Jesus! I'd be 

He tried to say "Jesus" out loud, to cry out some prayer such as the 
Hail Mary or the Our Father, some prayer he knew and had said a 
couple of thousand times every year for the past 35 or 40 years. But he 
heard no sound at all from his own lips. He was sure that he had 
pronounced the words. But possession of his hearing was too far gone. 

The babel grew louder and louder by infinitesimal but relentless 
degrees. The sound itself was without rhythm, David remembers. It 
was a combination of thousands of little sounds, literally a babel of 
sounds. It grew louder — approached him in that sense. The many little 
sounds started to harmonize into two or three particular syllables he 
could not rightly distinguish. The sounds grew greater, but they 
coalesced at such a slow pace and with what seemed such intermina- 
bly long pauses between changes, that a new oppression began to 
cramp his mind and body. It was his craning, waiting, expecting, his 
anticipation — all stirred into pain by the hard stick of fear inside hiin. 
Yet, within him, some strong, indomitable muscle of soul held firm. 

As the coalescing little voices took shape and rhythm, David began 
to hear the beat of those syllables louder and more distinctly. As the 
beating rhythm took body, he found his body swaying in unison, his 
feet beating on the floor, his hand beating on his knee, his head and 
shoulders jerking forward and backward. He still could not make out 


the syllables, but the rhythmic beating was animating every part of his 
body. His own lips started to pick up a syllable now and then. The 
voices grew louder still. Thousands of them. And more thousands. And 

Falteringly but with greater accuracy his lips searched out the 
sounds and fell into unison with the voices that were grating out those 
syllables louder and louder and louder. His tension grew. His physical 
movements went faster and faster. The sound of the voices was a roar 
in his inner hearing now. His own voice picked up the syllables. 

Mister Natch . . . Mister Natch . . . Mister Natch . . . Mister 
Natch . . . 

A whole army of voices was marching through his brain and soul, 
shouting, grating, hitting, screeching that last syllable, Natch! Natch! 
Natch! Natch!, until David felt he was going to turn into a palpitating, 
jerking string of taut muscles and mad sound. 

As the noise reached a crescendo, David had practically let go, 
surrendered, was waiting for disintegration through sound. Then a 
new and utterly different note echoed through the din. He stopped 
slipping, surrendering. Some inner part of him that had not been 
tainted now came alive. 

The new sound was clear, somewhat like a bell, but he knew no 
metal produced that sound; he knew its notes would not die when the 
hour sounded and passed. It was a sound that sang rather than rang. It 
echoed with a promise of permanence, sustained, continuous. It was a 
living sound. And while it had the haunting beauty of tonal silver 
speaking musically and without words through purest air, it also came 
sheathed in that liquidity and warmth whose message is love achieved. 

As David's heart sprang up toward the new song, he began to abhor 
all the more that loutish chant, Mister Natch! Mister Natch! Mister 
Natch! But still he could not free himself from its violent, seductive 
force. And so there formed a void, an abyss, an unbridgeable chasm 
whose walls were made of sound, whose floor was purest pain. One 
part of his mind became a bed of shaking, blustering depression; and 
his will recoiled from it in spasms of disgust. Another part of his mind 
was transfused with calm and secure freedom full of repose, immune 
to any fleck of darkness. "Between us and thee there is a great gulf 
fixed . . . they who would pass over it, cannot. " Bits of fright shot like 
electricity around ragtag phrases trailing in David's memory. 

And sound, always sound. Thumping, roaring, cantankerous, rau- 
cous, reeling round him like coils that deafened him and smothered 


him. And then, fresh and far, far above in some region of sunlight and 
upland calm out of any possible reach, but reaching him nonetheless, 
there was that other note, opposite, intimate, welling with unimagin- 
able sweetness that wet his face with tears of yearning. 

At a certain point, all this immersion in sounding opposites and 
echoing contradictions became both diversified and intensified. The 
conflict for possession of his hearing was extended to his other senses 
and to his inner pooling of senses. As the conflict increased and seeped 
through him, the fonts of fear and desire, of repugnance and attraction 
welled up until all his senses echoed his agony. 

He fell on his knees, his forehead pressed against the cold glass of 
the window, his hands locked in prayer, his eyes wide open and staring 
out at the night but unseeing of other eyes that watched from outside. 
For the next few interminable minutes, the hurricane contention 
between good and evil always twisting violently through our human 
landscape was funneled and focused on that kneeling figure of David, 
and the conflict seized him totally. 

Suddenly, at one moment, he was floating on an inland lake of 
unruffled waters within delightful valleys carpeted in green woods and 
peaceful lawns of wild flowers. Ahead lay an eastern sky, its clear blue 
face bronzed by a rising sun. Then just as suddenly, he was tossing 
frenetically on a mountain river rushing through a high gorge into 
which no sunlight reached. Nothing seemed to keep him from 
drowning or being impaled and crushed on shark-toothed rocks and 
ugly-headed crags. His body was carried through cascades and rapids 
overhung and hemmed in by gigantic battlements of sheer cliffs rent 
with narrow chasms and inhanging precipices. Throughout this 
violence, he was pursued by the clomping of Mister Natch and wooed 
by the lilting notes of that other music from far above. 

Then again, without warning, all the confusing contrasts increased 
in speed and variety. He was jammed into a quick-change theater 
alternating between horror and relief, beauty and beastliness, life and 
death. There was no sense, neither rhyme nor reason to it all. Now he 
saw delicate-limbed, silk-clad bodies dancing on a green platform and 
starching rhythms on the winds. Then, quick as a flash, he was 
scrutinizing eviscerated corpses, open bellies with the guts plopping 
and slobbering out on thighs and knees, bodies slit from chin to chine, 
severed breasts, gobs of eyes and fingers and hair, carpets of 
excrement. Now it was bunches of heavy, ripe fruit draped between 
trees or entwined in Spanish moss on a great levee. Then, in the 


kaleidoscope of insanity that was David's world in those excruciating 
moments, it was heavy canisters of urine pierced with holes, spraying 
the gaping eyes and mouths of cadavers, thousands of cadavers, men, 
women, children, fetuses, thrown higgledy-piggledy over a stony plain. 

As the bewildering, horrifying sets of images tumbled in front of his 
eyes, he felt his control ebbing. He was only sure of one thing: two 
forces were contending for possession of him, and he could not avoid 
the flooding of his senses. He could not rid them either of the filth or 
the beauty. All his life he had been able to control himself. Now 
control was gone. The invasion continued. 

The confusion reached his taste and sense of smell; it invaded every 
sense and every nuance of his being that was fed by his senses. Bitter 
and sweet, acrid and flowing, cesspool and perfume, sting and caress, 
animal and human, edible and inedible, vomit and delicacy, rough and 
smooth, subtle and pointed, shocking and wafting, dizzying and 
calming, aching and pleasuring — the contrasts jangled every taste bud 
and nerve in his mouth, throat, nose, and belly. 

He reached the point of near-hysteria when his sense of touch was 
attacked: every centimeter of his skin was being scraped with rough 
scales and stroked with velvet, burned by hot points and pained by 
icicles, then relaxed and massaged by gentle warmth and frictionless 

The storm in his senses grew more and more intense according as 
each of the contradictory sensations was pooled within him to make a 
jigsaw mosaic of nonsense, confusion, aimlessness, helplessness. 

Yet, even with all control lost, somehow his mind and will sought an 
answer to the ultimate question: Why can't I resist? What must I do to 
repel this? What motivation can I use to expel it all? What do 1 do? He 
realized clearly enough that his time was not up, that all was not lost 
yet; that somewhere in him something must be healthy and active still. 
For all the while he clung to one thing: the more intense the distortion 
became and the tighter the grip exercised on him, the more the sheer 
horror and pain paralyzed any initiative in him — the more beautiful 
and winning became that song from above. 

Its lovely sound was still at immeasurable distances and unreachable 
heights. In some way he could not understand, however, it was near 
him. He began to fight for the strength to hear it, to listen. It was not 
monochrome or single-toned. It was a chant of many voices; it 
harmonized some ineffable joy with sweeping clusters of chords and 
congregations of soaring grace notes. Adagio, it was grave but happy. 


Resounding, it had a coolness clinging to it. At once it had all the traits 
of love — its gentle teasing, its collusion and connivance, its favoritism; 
and beating within it, there was a steady organ-like pulsation that ran 
deeper than the heart of the universe and as high as the eternal 
placidness men have always ascribed to unchanging divinity. 

At one surprising moment in all the din and the pain, David's heart 
leaped. It was his only moment of relief and peace, and it came just 
before the climax of his struggle. It was not so much a beguiling lull 
that sometimes fools the priest in more ordinary exorcisms. It was a 
song he somehow knew, sung by voices he somehow knew. And 
although he could not recollect the song or who was singing it, he 
knew he was not alone. "Jesus! I'm not alone," he heard himself 
muttering. "I'm not alone!" 

He began to distinguish several voices in that gentle song. He knew 
them! He knew them! He could not recognize them, but he knew 
them. They were friends. Where? When? Who were they? He had 
known them for years, he realized. But who were they? And as the 
new feeling penetrated to his inner senses and clashed with his 
loneliness, a wild seesawing emotion started to filter further and 
further into his mind and will and imagination. He found himself 
babbling incoherent phrases which were at first unintelligible even to 
himself. The phrases seemed to come from some inner faculty he had 
always used but never acknowledged, some source of knowledge that 
he had neglected for all his years as an adult and a professional 

"My Salem chorus . . . my loved ones . . ." The phrases were 
squeezed out of him by some force and strength of his own, his very 
own. "My friends . . . Edward's friends. . . . Come nearer. . . . 
Forgive me . . ." 

A tiny eddy of understanding began to form in him as he tapped the 
memory of Old Edward's last days and of the visit to Salem long years 
ago. It was just in time. For in that moment there began what proved 
to be the last phase of David's trial. 

Moments of terror gripped David immediately: suddenly he felt 
everything, everything had been wrenched from his grasp and he 
could not find in himself any conscious reason to reject the clamorous 
and oppressive influence of Mister Natch. His mind again seemed to 
be a mere receptacle. His will — the will he had always relied on 
consciously for his discipline in study and his practical decisions — 
seemed to be at bay again and unable to carry him to victory. 


Terror deepened as his mind became more and more confused, and 
his will was overcome and strapped down and immobilized by 
contradictory and poisonously neutralizing motives. What poured into 
his mind and filled his spirit was like venom. 

A pell-mell mob of reasons squealed and screamed within him. 
Mister Natch pulsed and rasped horribly: Hoc est corpus meum . . . 
Hocus-pocus Jesus is, a crucified donkey. . . . Good and truth is man 's 
highest goal. . . . How delightful and human to try the most unhuman. 
. . . Jesus, Mary, and . . . Satan, devils can fuck, fuck, fuck. . . . I 
give you my heart and my . . . God will not allow evil. . . . Good is as 
banal as bad, have both. . . . I desire the salvation of the Cross . . . 
and I hope to taste the liberty of blasphemy. . . . I love . . . I 
hate . . . I believe . . . I disbelieve. . . . He created Jesus out of 
slime . . . and said this my beloved son in whom I am well pleased. 
David's will was numbed with pain and exhaustion. All this while, his 
senses were attacked and confused with the same jangling conflict, 
until in a land of indescribable idiocy and confusion his touch, his 
smell, his hearing all echoed: The good is too good to be true. . . . The 
evil is too evil not to be true. . . . What is true? 

Now, no solution, no escape, no alternative to the dilemma, no 
determining factor, no deciding weight in the balance seemed 
possible. Lost. All lost. All that David had studied, every highway and 
byway of intellectual reasoning, psychological subtlety, theological 
proof, philosophical logic, historical evidence — all these became like 
so many objects, not parts of him, only mere possessions and trash he 
had accumulated, now thrown into flames that advanced across the 
threshold of his very being. Everything he threw at those flames was 
seized, melted, dissipated, mere fuel, unable to resist the burning. 

Blackness had almost fully beclouded his mind when David became 
aware that one thing still remained. Something that defied the 
blackness and the clouding. Something that rose in him strongly, 
independently every time that strange, insistent song dominated the 
clamor wrapping him around. At first, he was merely aware of the 
sound. Then he began to marvel at its strength, and not at its loudness, 
for he could not always hear it, but at its persistence in the middle of 
his pain and encroaching despair. He tried to reflect on it and on the 
strength that rose in him like a responding chord, but immediately he 
lost all awareness of it. And, immediately again, the struggle set in, and 
his attention turned. And no sooner did he hear the song again than 
that strange, autonomous strength within him rose up. 


All at once he knew what that strength was. It was his will. His 
autonomous will. He himself as a freely-choosing being. 

With a sidelong glance of his mind, he dismissed once and for all 
that fabric of mental illusions about psychological motivations, behav- 
ioral stimulations, rationales, mentalistic hedges, situational ethics, 
social loyalties, and communal shibboleths. All was dross and already 
eaten up and disintegrated in the flames of this experience which 
might still consume him. 

Only his will remained. Only his freedom of spirit to choose held 
firm. Only the agony of free choice remained. 

"My Salem chorus!" he heard himself say. "My friends! Pray for me. 
Ask Jesus for me. Pray for me. I have to choose." 

Now a specific and peculiar agony beset David. He had never 
known it before. Indeed, afterwards he wondered for a long time how 
many real choices he had made freely in his life before that night. For 
it was that agony of choosing freely — totally freely — that was now his. 
Just for the sake of choosing. Without any outside stimuli. Without any 
background in memory. Without any push from acquired tastes and 
persuasions. Without any reason or cause or motive deciding his 
choice. Without any gravamen from a desire to live or to die — for at 
this moment he was indifferent to both. He was, in a sense, like the 
donkey medieval philosophers had fantasized as helpless, immobilized, 
and destined to starve because it stood equidistant from two 
equivalent bales of hay and could not decide which one to approach 
and eat. Totally free choice. 

Mister Natch's clomping rhythm now became the grotesque accom- 
paniment of an evil and sickening burlesque of distortion. A satyr face 
and body loomed in David's imagination — so real that he saw it with 
his eyes. Naked. Obscenely sprawled. Bulbous. The nose pointing in 
one askew direction. Two eyes squinting in opposite directions. Mouth 
grinning, foaming, crooked. Throat gurgling insane chuckles. Heavy 
female breasts blotched with warts, hanging nipples, blood-red, and 
pointing like twin penises. Legs apart, streaked with blood and sperm. 
One toe doubled back into the crotch scratching and rubbing 
frenetically. Twisted, irregular fingers with broken nails pulling at 
lumps of hair and gesturing crudely. Clots of caked excrement around 
the buttocks. 

David caught the odor of cowstalls and open-air privies. He 
remembered the devil figures of the Greeks and the Asmat. He felt the 
oldest pull recorded in the history of the human heart. He felt it as an 


ancient seed of evil he had received from all who went before him, not 
as a physical gift of terrible import but as a consequence of his being 
born of their line and, in a sense, accumulating all the evil they had 
transmitted. Not evil acts. Nor evil impulses. Neither guilts nor shame. 
Nothing positive. Rather an absence amounting to a fatal flaw. A 
deathly lack. A capacity for self-hatred, for suicide, not because he 
could not live forever but because he could so live if only . . . That 
tantalizing "if only" of mortality which aspires infinitely without being 
infinite itself. The fames peccati of the Latins. The yetzer ha-ra of the 
Hebrews. "Ye can be as gods knowing good and evil," the Serpent had 
said in the Bible myth — not adding "but capable only of evil, if left to 

He had to choose. The freedom to accept or reject. A proposed step 
into a darkness. The song from on high was silent. The clamor of 
Mister Natch was stilled. All seemed waiting on his next step. His own. 
Onlv his. 

Even to be neutral was a decision. For to be neutral now was to take 
refuge in cynicism; to say, "I don't want to know;" to refuse an appeal 
for trust; to be alone; just to be. 

For a split second it seemed he should turn back and call for the 
consolation of evil — at least he would be under a tangible control and 
possessed by that which corresponded to one of his deepest urges. But 
it was only for a second, because from beyond that crag of decision he 
heard — or thought he heard — a great cry coming across an infinite 
distance, not in protest, not in hysteria, not in despair; rather a cry 
from a soul driven to the outermost point of endurance by pain and 
disgrace and abandonment. He heard that cry take several forms: 
"Abba, Father!" "Mother, behold!" "Lord, Remember me!" "In this 
sign . . ." 

It was all David needed to push him, even pursued by his fears, past 
that crag. He began to think words again, to open his lips, mouthing 
them soundlessly. 

Then panic rose. What if it were all delusion, mocking delusion? 
The panic became pandemonium in his brain. But now it was matched 
and outstripped by his violent wish to speak, to get those words out in 
living sound. Somehow, if it took his last strength, if it cost him his life, 
he had to pronounce them audibly. His intentions would not be 
humanly real until he did . . . unless he did. 

In his agony, still on his knees and still facing the window of his 


room, David remained so absorbed in this last effort that he still did 
no'5: notice the figure standing outside the window. Father Joseph had 
waited at home for the storm to abate, and then set out for the farm. 
The only light in the place had been from Davids window. Now he 
stood outside trying to guess what was happening to his friend inside. 
"Help him. Mother of Jesus. In the name of Jesus, ask for help for him, 
please." He could see David's lips working silently and his wide, 
sightless eyes staring into the night. 

Joseph was about to tap on the window or wake up the others in the 
house when he heard David cry out loud, at first in a staccato fashion, 
then firmly and connectedly and vibrantlv: "I choose . . . I will ... I 
believe. . . . Help my unbelief . . . Jesus! ... I believe I believe I 
believe." Joseph stood stock-still and listened. He could only see 
David's face and hear his words. He could not enter his consciousness, 
where the twin chants had once again sounded to the very depth of his 

But it was different for David now. He had chosen, and the result 
was instantaneous. He found, not destruction and helplessness and 
childish weakness, and not the black slavery of mind and will that 
Mister Natch had taunted would be the fruits of belief. Instead, a great 
and breathtaking dimension full of relief and distance and height and 
depth flooded his mind and will and imagination. 

As if the darkness and agony behind him had been but a little 
transitory test, the horizons of life and existence were miraculously 
clear now. The air was suffused with serene sunlight and great, calm 
spaces of blue. 

Every scale, measurement, and extension of his life was clothed in 
the grace and comeliness of a freedom he had always feared losing but 
had never been sure he possessed. Every slope he had climbed as a 
young boy — his first attempts at thinking, at feeling, at judging 
morally, at self-expression — were now covered in beds of high flowers 
scented, like violets and harebells and columbine. Every cranny and 
niche where his feet had caught and he had tripped and stumbled 
during his early intellectualism at the university were now filled with 
springing green grass. 

And his greatest wonder was his new sky, his fresh horizon. Over the 
years his human sky had become a cast-iron grating — he had been able 
to send an odd plea winging through the little holes. But his horizon 
itself had become a tall, unscalable mesh of steel; it was misted with 


unknowing and agnosticism: with the "We cannot know exactly" of 
the pseudointellectual, the "Let's keep an open mind" that opens 
every argument against belief. 

Now, suddenly, with his decision made, David's sky was a dustless 
depth of expanding space. His horizon was an open vastness receding, 
receding, receding, ever receding, without obstacle or limit or speck or 
narrowness. He saw himself immeasurably high up, free of trammels, 
on a zenith of desire and volition, clear of all backward-looking, 
unhampered by cloying regrets or by wisping mice of memory 
gnawing at his untried sexuality and his unexpected whims. 

David was in full view of all he ever signified as a human being and 
all that being human ever signified for him, at the ancient heart of 
man's millennial weakness and on the peak of man's gratuitously given 
power to be with God, to be of God, and to live forever. 

The many figures that had peopled his past he now saw within the 
eternal light — Neanderthal, Cro-Magnon, Sinanthropos, Homo sapiens, 
food gatherers, food producers, Stone Age men, Bronze Agers, Iron 
Agers, Jew, Crusader, Muslim, Renaissance Pope, Russian Patriarch, 
Greek priest, Catholic cardinal, Asiatic Buddha, African devil, Satan, 
Darwin, Freud, Mao, Lenin, the poor of Sekelia, the running and 
burning figures in the streets of Hiroshima, the dying babies of 
Bombay, the houses in California's Bel Air, the lecture halls of the 
Sorbonne, the villas of Miami Beach, the mines of West Virginia, the 
wafer in his own hands at Mass, the lifeless face of Jonathan. . . . 

He was just about to fall into prayer when, for an instant, he heard 
the two chants again. He was jerked out of his visioning back to the 
reality of the chair, the bay window, and the night. The heavenly 
chant was now no more than a single prolonged note on a lute, 
persistent, limpid, clear, beautiful. Mister NatcfTs grating chant had 
been diluted and shattered. 

By some mysterious proxy, David felt the pangs of an agony he did 
not regret. He was, he knew, assisting at the inescapable woe of some 
living beings whom he did not know, whom he had to hate, but whose 
fate was catastrophic disaster unmitigated by any poignancy or any 
pity. Despite the flooding peace and light washing over his spirit, he 
found himself following the desperate retreat o^ his wounded adver- 

The once-muscular, breathing cries of Mister Natch had now 
narrowed to a thin, piping wail shot through with trills of terror, 
arpeggios of agony running feverishly and irregularly through every 


note of protest. That lingering wail seemed to spiral up, twisting and 
writhing and curling, an insect shaking poisonous antennae while it 
scuttled backward desperately for home cover in the sewer, a snake 
whose body was a solid, pulsating pain, stabbing its head upward as it 
moved away from the fluid lava of that other resounding note — what 
David always described afterward as his "Salem chorus." 

Then he began to feel great distances again. Mister Natch's clamor 
dwindled, always pursued by that chant of Heaven. As it all grew 
fainter, David stood up, listening intently. The two chants were 
withdrawing from him. He flung open the double windows and looked 
out past Joseph's shoulder, his gaze traveling to the garden and, 
beyond, to the countryside, the mountains, the horizon. As the sounds 
withdrew, sucked, as it were, into uncharted spaces among the stars 
overhead, he searched the sky. The storm center had slipped away to 
the Eastern seaboard to be spent over the Atlantic. It was cold, 
probably freezing. Up among the stars he tried to follow the trajectory 
of those sounds. But the last faint echoes died. All was quiet. He 
listened, gazing silently upward. There was no sound. 

A slow smile of recognition appeared around his eyes and at the 
corners of his mouth, as he heard the rustling energies of the earth 
recovering themselves after the storm. 

His glance rested finally on Father Joseph, and he motioned him to 
step inside. The moon was already riding high, bright-faced, a warm, 
yellow hue to its light. Its very silence was golden and gentle and 
confident. He and Joseph were about to turn away from the window 
into the room when a mockingbird started to sing down in the copse 
where Old Edward used to stroll smoking his pipe in the evenings 
after dinner. That song came to David as a message from a world of 
grace, a hint of life without ending; not as Jonathan and as he, David, 
had taken such sounds of nature; not as intimations of molecules 
endlessly regrouping, but of endless life for each person, and of love 
without a shadow. 

David sank into his chair and listened. Joseph stood motionless, 
afraid to disturb him. He looked away from David out at the sky and 
the trees. All night long until the moon sank and the early lights of the 
sun streaked from the east, first blue and gray, then red, the two men 
stayed there, while only the mockingbird's song broke the silence. The 
song seemed to take on the unruffled calm of infinity. It filled their ears 
and minds. It poured into every corner and cranny of the room where 
they were. It was surprising, full of unexpected flights and long, 


graceful sustainments that teetered on to the edge of melody, then 
swung away just in time to take up new scales. It was not triumphant. 
It was celebration of calm, proclamation of continuity, assertion of 
living's value, confirmation of beauty for beauty's sake, assurance of a 
morrow as well as blessing on all yesterdays. It came as annunciation, 
and filled their night silence with grace. 

Toward the dawn Joseph heard a low whisper and glanced at David. 
He was reciting the Ave Maria in the Greek of Paul and Luke and 
John: "Chaire Miryam, kecharitomene" and repeating that long, 
leaping compliment the Angel Gabriel paid the Virgin: "Kecharito- 
mene! Kecharitomene! Kecharitomene! . . . Full of Grace! Full of 
Grace! Full of Grace!" Slow tears ran down David's cheeks. 

There was no point, Joseph knew, in disturbing him now. The peace 
of silence and that song were all he needed and what he deserved, all 
the balm he wanted. 

They waited until day broke full and the mockingbird had trilled to 
silence in a quick descent. They saw it take off from the trees and soar 
up, singing again as it went until it was a mere speck in the lightening 
color of the morning sky, alternately sailing and fluttering, until it 
faded from sight into silence. 

David stirred and moistened his lips. He did not look at Father 
Joseph, but just said: ''Let's make some coffee, Father Joe. Then let's 
get over to Jonathan, before it's too late." Father Joseph did not stir. 
He was waiting for David's glance and some word. David turned and 
smiled at the other man: "I know now, Joe. I now know." He paused 
and looked out the window again. "It is the same spirit. The same 
method. The same slavery." 


Joseph glanced at David's face as he drove. It was firm and 
expressionless, save for a certain granite-like set to the jawline. His 
cheeks were hollow, but the growth of his beard filled his face out. The 
eyes were steady. David seemed driven by some powerful inner force 
Joseph felt much more than he understood. It made him a little afraid. 
He sensed vaguely a touch of ruthlessness, a downright and decisive 
thrust. He looked away from David; and, without warning, he found 
himself laughing quietly with a surprising surge of ironic humor. 
"What's the joke, Joe?" It was good to see David's mouth soften. 


Father Joseph had found himself saying spontaneously, "God help 
the poor Devil," when he saw the determined look on David's face. 
David grinned and threw an admiring look at his companion. "God 
bless you, Father Joe. You're never in any danger. You never took 
yourself seriously enough." Then they both laughed. 

They reached Jonathan's house just after sundown that same day. 
David decided against waiting to round up assistants. He knew he 
would be in control of this case; he knew he had already bested the 
"Mister Natch" that had taken Jonathan so much farther into 
possession than David himself had been. 

When they drew up at the house, the front door was open. 
Jonathan's mother, Sybil, stood in the doorway, a shawl around her 
shoulders. She was not smiling, but not sad, just quietly matter-of-fact. 

"You were expected, Father David," she said, as the two men 
entered. "They told me you were coming." Then, in answer to the 
query in David's eyes, she explained that until early that morning, 
until about three o'clock, Jonathan had been all right; that is, he had 
remained unchanged. "But," she continued, "when you were liber- 
ated, he suddenly got very bad." 

Joseph was stunned; he could not believe he had heard her say to 
David, "when you were liberated." But David's eyes were filled with 
understanding as she went on. "I'm not worried about my son's body. 
It's his soul." 

For some seconds David stood looking at her. Joseph knew he was 
excluded from an intimate understanding between these two people. 
But he knew too that the price of being included was too dreadful. 

On the hall table beside them two candles were already lit. Side by 
side with them were crucifix, ritual book already open, holy-water 
flask, and stole. 

"It shouldn't be too late yet," David spoke. 

"It shouldn't be," she rejoined. Then grimacing gently: "It's just I 
have not long to go myself. And if he must go too, I want us all to be 

David nodded his head slowly while he stared at the door beyond 
her. His mood was part wariness, part musing. Then he returned her 
gaze, saying: "You will be, Mother. Have no fear. You will all be 
together. The worst is over." 

He slipped the stole around his shoulders, took the ritual book and 
holy-water flask in hand. Joseph held the candlesticks. David looked at 
the open pages of the ritual. Jonathan's mother had opened it at the 


page where the main prayer started. Stepping past her, he turned the 
doorknob and entered Jonathan's room. 

It was shuttered and dark. An unnaturally acrid and fetid odor hit 
his nostrils. Jonathan was sitting on the floor in the far corner, his feet 
doubled up beneath him. The light from the corridor fell across his 
face. David read the terror in his eyes, but it was a frozen terror. And 
David knew immediately: Jonathan would do nothing more, would 
struggle no more. 

Jonathan's mouth was open. But neither tongue nor teeth were 
visible. Joseph placed the candles on the small night table by the bed. 
As the light fell on Jonathan, they noticed a curving line of fresh water 
drops running from wall to wall. His mother had shaken holy water 
recently in a semicircle pinning her son into the corner. One hand lay 
by Jonathan's side, but the other, the one with the crooked forefinger, 
lay on his chest in an eerie gesture. He was deathly still; but his eyes 
were glued on David's face and followed him as he moved closer. 

As David stood over him, Jonathan's eyes were large, bloodshot 
whites with little half-moons of black irises glinting up at David. 

Joseph expected David to start immediately, but David said 
nothing. He stood there. Silence. 

Jonathan's crooked forefinger stirred from his chest in a slight 
motion toward David. David looked, still and silent. The forefinger 
wavered in thin air, then fell back stiffly. It was a gesture of 
helplessness. Jonathan's mouth opened and closed; he was trying to 
say something. 

Still David did not budge or say anything. 

Jonathan moved his head from side to side, his eyes still fixed on 
David, as if he was trying to pry himself loose from some ropes of 
influence binding him to David. A sudden and visible tremor ran 
through his body, and he turned his face and body away from David to 
the wall. He was shaking all over. They could barely hear the words 
which came muffled and thick from his mouth. 

"Speak to me, Brother . . ." 

"No brother, Satan! No brother!" David's voice was like a heavy 
knife. Joseph winced. David was silent again. 

"We too have to possess our habitation, Father . . ." the voice 

"Your habitation is forever in outer darkness. And your father is the 
Father of Lies." The trenchant sneer in David's voice again hit even 


Joseph where it hurt. David, he understood, hated and loathed more 
than Joseph ever dreamed a man could hate and loathe. 

"Even the Anointed One gave us a place with the swine." 

"As a sign of your filth," David spat the words out, "and as an 
indication of your being buried alive in torments." 

"Listen! . . . Listen!" the voice went on with a deathly note of 
desperation. It was almost a wail. "Listen!" 

"You will listen and you will obey!" David was not shouting. But 
every word exploded from within him as a living missile. "You will all 
obey! You will go forth! You will relinquish all possession of this 
creature! You will do this in the name of God who created him and 
you, and of Jesus of Nazareth who saved him! You will depart and get 
back to the uncleanness and agony you chose. You will do it now. In 
the name of Jesus. Now. Go. Depart. In the name of Jesus." 

Then David's voice changed. He was speaking to Jonathan from a 
reserve of tenderness and affection clothed in strength that moved 
Joseph as deeply as he had been shocked just a moment previously. 

"Jonathan! Jonathan! I know you hear me. And hearing me, you 
hear the words of Jesus." Jonathan's body started to rack and tremble. 
He began to stretch out face down on the floor until only his fingertips 
touched the corner in which he had been slumped. David and Joseph 
moved back a pace. 

"I know," David continued, "what you have been through. I know 
where you failed. I know how you were possessed by this unclean 
spirit. Jesus has paid for all your sins, as he did for mine. But now you 
have to pay. Believe me, I know. I know that only you can finally 
consent. With your will, Jonathan. With your will. But you must 
consent to suffer the punishment. Do you consent, Jonathan? Do you 
consent? Consent! Jonathan! Consent! For the love of Jesus, consent 
with your whole will!" 

Then to Joseph: "Sprinkle some holy water!" Joseph obeyed. David 
opened the ritual book and started to recite the official prayers. 

From Jonathan's mouth there came a howl lasting longer than any 
normal breath. David kept reading steadily, while he held up the 
crucifix in front of him. According as he progressed in the prayers, the 
howl increased, interspersed with dreadful sobs and groans. 

But then they heard a thin voice singing. It came from the corridor 
outside. Jonathan's mother was chanting a hymn to the Virgin — the 
ancient Gregorian chant of the Salve Regina. As the medieval Latin 


syllables reached them in her little voice, Jonathan's howling and 
tremors began bit by bit to diminish. David stopped reading the 
prayers; he closed his book and listened. 

The timbre of the mother's voice was quavering, reedlike. Yet, for 
David and for Joseph, it reached past their conscious recollections, 
past all the censor bonds of their adult life, back to the raw hours and 
days and months and years when once upon a time they were 
vulnerable to the misery of human unhappiness and when the love 
they enjoyed from home and family was their only and quite sufficient 
safeguard against all wounds. 

Jonathan's mother was quite literally putting her soul into that sung 
prayer. Her mother's heart was crying to another mother. And, as far 
as Joseph could see, only these two mothers could appreciate what was 
now at stake. He had never been a highly emotional man; but 
memories crowded up in front of him, and he was gently stung by 
nostalgia. Joseph's enjoyment of esthetic pleasures had always been 
limited by an unsubtle mind and lack of personal culture. To his own 
mother he had never spoken as an adult; she died before he matured. 

Until this moment, the woman to whom Jonathan's mother was 
praying had been merely a brightly lit and inaccessible star in his 
religious firmament: a Galilean Jewess who, without personal merit, 
without having thought one thought or said one word or performed 
one action, had been privileged with a grace no other human would 
ever, will ever, receive — to be totally pleasing to God's purest holiness 
from the very first instant of her personal existence. That had been the 
sum of Mary for Father Joseph. This had been all her dignity. She had 
never plucked the flowers of evil. She had been preserved. One of 
God's favorites. 

Now, listening with David to that chant, he sensed with a speed that 
made understanding almost violent what being a mother and what 
being a child meant. He grasped the mysterious convivium, the mutual 
sharing and togetherness in human living of child and mother, their 
presence one to the other. And it dawned on him that that presence 
had no parallel elsewhere on the entire landscape of human living — 
neither lover to beloved, nor friend to friend, nor citizen to country, 
nor man to God. 

Now this one mother was singing in prayer to another mother with a 
faith and a confidence that no man could summon. He understood: as 
mothers who had lived within a filigree work of heartbeat to heartbeat, 
breath to breath, movement to movement, sleep to sleep, wakefulness 


to wakefulness, they both had been placed, not at the periphery, but at 
the luminous center of a child's delicate beginnings in psychophysical 
life; and both had seen a child pass across the threshold of birth, 
quickening to consciousness, to recognition, to mentalism, to volition, 
to meaning. 

Jonathan's mother finished the Salve Regina. For a moment there 
was silence. Then she improvised a last, spoken prayer. David and 
Jonathan heard her say: "You were his mother. You saw him die. You 
saw him live again. You understand. You could have died of pain on 
either occasion. Help me now." 

Joseph felt helpless against the tears that came to his eyes. 

He was aroused by David's voice speaking quietly. In the corner 
David was kneeling beside Jonathan. Jonathan had sat up and was 
leaning, not crouching now, with his back to the wall. Both hands 
were in David's. 

Joseph turned away to leave the room. He had understood nothing, 
he felt. Anyway, it was confession time. 

Jonathan had the bleached and windswept look of one whose face 
has been torn by pain and weeping, the angelic calm and luminosity — 
almost joy — that Joseph had most often seen on the faces of the dying 
when, after rebellion and despair, they finally accepted the inevitable 
and turned fully to belief and hope. 

It was an enviable peace. 

The Virgin 
and the Girl-Fixer 

Suddenly the whole scene changed in that Exorcism room, like an 
eerie and expert theater experience where, in a few seconds, the main 
actors change costumes and roles and the scenery is switched on 
invisible wheels, back to front, upside down, inside out, producing a 
kaleidoscope of change that makes everyone blink in disbelief. 

At one moment, Father Gerald, the exorcist, was bending over the 
possessed, Richard /Rita,* who had sunk his teeth in his own instep. In 
the next instant, the glaze in Richard/ Rita's eyes broke, melting into a 
lurid gleam of mockery. Greenish. The teeth loosened their grip on the 
instep. The mouth opened, baring gums and throat, the tongue 
protruded, quivering on a stream of gray foam bubbles. The whole 
face was furrowed in irregular lines, as Richard /Rita broke into peals 
of laughter. Great buffeting gusts of mocking, jeering, Schadenfreude 
laughter. Laughter pouring from a belly of amused scorn and 
contemptuous hate. 

In a fraction of a second Gerald understood. The Girl-Fixer, 
invisible to his eyes, was on him, two claws clutching at his middle. His 
assistants heard the raucous laughter. They held their ears. But 
Gerald's agony they could not know. All they saw were Gerald's 

* Richard O. is a transsexual. In talking about his life before his operation, I refer to him as 
Richard O. or simply as Richard. Afterwards, until his exorcism is completed, he is referred to as 
Richard/Rita. In conversation, Father Gerald frequently referred to him as R/R. With Richard 
O.'s permission, I refer to him throughout this narrative with the masculine pronouns — he, his, 
him. Today he calls himself simply Richard O. 


sudden, violent spasms backward and forward "as if his middle was 
caught in a vise"; then the screeching shredding of his cassock and 
clothes, leaving him naked from chest to ankles. After that, all details 
escaped them in the violent jerkings and writhings of his body. 

Gerald felt one claw was now totally sunk in his rectum. Another 
claw held his genitals, stretching his scrotum away from his penis, 
jerking at him brutally. Both claws were stiff, cutting like the jagged 
edge of a tin can, driving deeper and deeper, impaling him. He reeled 
away from the couch where Richard/Rita lay laughing, laughing, 
laughing, kicking the air and thumping the couch with clenched fists in 
deafening bursts of merriment. 

Gerald staggered zigzag across the room, bent like a jackknife, 
involuntary screams gushing from his throat. One claw rocked back 
and forth within him. Slivers of agony jabbed and pierced through his 
buttocks and belly and groin, as flesh and veins and mucous membrane 
and skin tore and ripped irregularly. 

A fetid smell wafted up to his nostrils and from behind his head. The 
voice of the Girl-Fixer beat at his eardrums unmercifully: "You're my 
sow. I'm on you. Your boar. My snout is giving you the best blow-job 
in the Kingdom. Shoot, sow! Spread your legs, sow! Your boar is 
mounting your flesh, opening your little untouched hairs. My prick is 
taking your virginity. You're no girl. But I'm still the fixer of every 

Gerald staggered in spasms, stumbling over his feet, doubled up, 
flaying the air helplessly, leaving a thin trail of semen, blood, 
excrement, and screams, until he bumped heavily into the wall, and 
fell to the floor in a twisted bundle. Blood sprang from a thin, vertical 
split that opened from the middle of his forehead up into his hair. 

Richard/ Rita froze into the blazing look again. 

The attack had lasted about three seconds. It was over before 
the others recovered themselves. Suddenly, Gerald's screams and 
Richard/ Ritas laughter stilled, there was a moment without sound in 
the room, like the farthest edge of whispers. The raw silence after 
raucous, earsplitting noise. 

Then, a flurry of voices and activity. The doctor and the police 
captain lifted Gerald onto the stretcher that had ironically been 
brought for Richard/ Rita. The four men quickly bound Richard /Rita 
down tightly to the iron frame of the couch. No one looked at those 
eyes. All felt the blazing glance on them, intent, triumphant, smug. 


"Like tying down a hot, steamy carcass," one of them recalled 

Richard /Rita's two brothers, Bert and Jasper, eyes swollen red with 
tears, faces dirtied yellow with panic, carried the stretcher out. As the 
assistants left the house, they felt the stark contrast between the scene 
they had just witnessed and the outside world. In the garden by the 
pond the thrushes were warbling in the first wave of the dawn chorus 
Richard/Rita had loved so much and which had drawn him to live 
here in the first place. The sun was shining. 

Inside, Gerald's priest assistant, Father John, still wearing his 
immaculate cassock, settled down in an easy chair to watch and pray. 
He was wordless. Just to be sure, he held the crucifix in one hand and 
the holy-water flask in the other. 

A year earlier, in the ordered life of the seminary, he had known 
nothing of all this. Had not even suspected its existence. Evil had been 
a definition on the white page of a theology manual. And the Devil, 
well, that had been really not more than a mysterious name for a 
gentleman thought of in terms of horns, a green face, hooves, and a 
forked tail. Now John had the bleached, drained look which only 
youth carries when strain and weariness veil its freshness, and it has 
neither age lines to show nor makeup to lose, only paled illusions to 
shield it. It was 6:20 a.m. 

There would now be a delay of four and a half weeks before Gerald 
could resume and successfully terminate the exorcism of Richard/ Rita. 
The violent outcome of the first part of the exorcism would provoke 
many difficulties for Gerald. His own bishop entertained doubts about 
Gerald's competency. The psychiatrists involved in Richard/Rita's 
case decided that Gerald, a layman to psychology, was meddling 
dangerously with Richard/Rita's mental health. Gerald's own health 
was a continuing problem. And, as experience taught, even a partial 
failure to complete an exorcism meant that eventual completion of it 
would be doubly difficult. 

Yet — if at all possible — Gerald had to complete the exorcism of 
Richard/ Rita. For two main reasons. If Gerald were not personally to 
do so, there would be no guarantee that he himself would be immune 
from at least harassment — if not worse — by the evil spirit that 
possessed Richard/Rita. As it happened, Gerald did not survive very 
long after his successful termination of the exorcism. Apart from that, 
there was now a definite possibility that an attempt at exorcism by 
another person would fail. 



Gerald's housekeeper, Hannah, showed me through the house into the 
garden and called out to the thin figure in shirt and jeans tending the 
flower beds at the far end of the garden. As I crossed the lawn, he 
waved to me: "Hi! Come over and chat. I want to finish this job before 
sunset." It was about 5:30 p.m. The sun was beginning to cool, but its 
light was still gilding everything about me in warm yellow. 

"Out here among my tulips," said Father Gerald to me with a wave 
of the trowel in his left hand, "I have great beauty. And peace, of 
course." Still bending over his flowers, as he patted the earth: "Done 
much gardening, Malachi, in your time?" I said I had done a little. I 
asked if I might take notes of our conversation. He laughed lightly in 
assent. From the start. Father Gerald established an atmosphere of 
ease: I had been expected; I should take a welcome for granted. 

The last thing I had expected to find Gerald doing was tulip 
gardening. Sitting weakly in a deep armchair reading, perhaps. Or 
hobbling painfully on a stick to meet me with a wan smile. But 
enjoying life and tranquillity with obvious measures of physical 
well-being and quite evident inner happiness — this was almost a shock 
to me. 

There were three tulip beds. He was working the middle one. 
Beyond them, a row of yellow azaleas. Then the ground sloped down 
to rolling prairie fields and distant mountains. Somewhere in the sky a 
small airplane droned. 

His casualness was contagious. I asked: "What exactly do you like 
about your tulips, Gerald?" I was standing over him to one side. 

Without looking up, he went on working, answering me slowly and 
deliberately. "No claims. You see. They don't clamor at you. They just 
are there. Beautifully. Just are" The slight emphasis on that last word 
had a faint French roll to it. "As you apparently know" — this last with 
a boyish grin, teasing himself wryly more than he was teasing me — "I 
have had some dealings with beauty. And the beast. After that, you 
know beauty when you meet it." He paused, glancing up at the twin 
mountain peaks away to the far left. But the sun was in my eyes and 
his features were blurred to me. Then, finishing his thought: "And the 

After a minute or two, Gerald straightened up with an unhurried 
gentleness, facing me for the first time, his arms by his sides, his back 


to the sun. Now, four months after he had completed the exorcism of 
Richard /Rita, in retirement on the edge of a Midwestern town, 
Gerald, according to medical reports, had about five or six more 
months to live. At the age of forty-eight he had incurable heart disease 
and had already survived two strokes. 

The man looking at me was slightly taller than myself. Thin- 
shouldered, blond, gray-eyed, he stood in an askew fashion, as if the 
center of his torso had been twisted out of shape — a memento not of 
the strokes, but of the Girl-Fixer; an ungentle reminder of his exorcism 
of Richard /Rita. A scar ran vertically up his forehead into his hairline. 
What struck me particularly was his face shining like a beacon — a 
light all over it, without any visible source. Then there was a dark, 
oblong patch on his forehead between the eyes. Like a nevus. Mutual 
friends, referring me to him, had told me about it. "Gerald's Jesus 
patch" they had called it jokingly but affectionately. The new scar ran 
through the "patch." 

Gerald, they had said, never looks into you, just at you. Not until 
now did I realize what they meant. Like when you look at a city on a 
map in order to find out where it is. It was your context that mattered 
to Gerald, where you were at. Only, I did not know then what he saw 
as context. 

"I know very little about you, except that I am supposed to trust 
you. Your name — Malachi Martin. Where you live — New York. You 
were a Jesuit once. Some books to your credit. You wanted to see me 
about Richard /Rita." His tone was level and low. After a few 
moments and still looking at my eyes: "Nothing much else, beyond 
that you appear to have peace in you, but" — with a quick glance all 
over my face — "you strike me as not having paid all your dues." He 
must have noticed some involuntary reaction in me, some unvoiced 
protest. "No. Not that. Those dues we hardly ever pay. I meant: you 
seem to have tasted beauty's sweetness, but not its awesomeness." 

He stopped and looked down at the tulips. "I garden regularly. It 
relaxes. Tulips — well, I love their colors, I suppose." Another pause. 
The boyish grin again. "Let's take some tulips in to Hannah for the 
dinner table." 

He bent down again. There had been no tension between us, only 
briefly on my part, when he scrutinized me for the first time. And now 
the tension had disappeared. He had satisfied himself about some 
puzzle in me. 

"I do want to talk about Richard /Rita," I said as he set to work 


again. "But my chief interest bears on you." He worked on in silence 
for a few moments. An early-evening breeze bent the tulips. The 
sunlight had dimmed to a very light gray -blue. 

"You realize," he said matter-of-factly as if to put to rest any tension 
I might still have, "you won't get away with it this time. Not scot-free, 
anyway. I mean, if ever you paid your dues, you'll pay thern now — if 
you go ahead with your project." 

"I have thought about all that." 

"This is no mere fun and games, Malachi. You're treading on their 
turf. Dangerously. From their point of view. If I can believe my 
friends, that is." I began to notice his staccato style of speaking. "But I 
suppose. You've calculated all that. Eh? Still set on taking the risk. 
Risk there is. Anyway. You have your own protection. That much I 
can see." 

"I spent two days with Richard/Rita, Gerald." 

"All going well?" We both were avoiding the sharp-toothed 
pronouns, he, she, his, her, and the like. 

"As far as I can judge. Of course . . ." Since his exorcism, 
Richard/ Rita had lived in an in-between land of his mind. There was 
disquieting indefiniteness about him. 

"Of course. I understand. But Richard/ Rita is at least clean." 

"What would you say was the principal benefit to you from the 
whole matter?" 

"Before it all happened, I never knew what love was. Or what 
masculine and feminine meant. Really did not. Besides, I got rid of 
some deep pride in myself." 

It was now getting chilly. I was happy to stroll with Gerald into the 
house for dinner. We talked continuously. And, as we did, it became 
clear to me yet again that, while true cases of Exorcism take their toll, 
they are not simple horror tales for frightening readers and movie- 
goers. For all that evening we were delving deeper not into horror, but 
into the frame of love that makes it possible to expel horror. And the 
case of Richard/ Rita was important beyond many another, exactly 
because it centered on our ability to identify love, and on the dire risk 
of confusing that love with what we can only see as its physical or even 
chemical components. 

It became clear that for Father Gerald the importance centered on 
the same point. Richard/Rita had carried the confusion to ghastly 
extremes. But for those who could corne to know and understand his 
case, there is a lesson to be learned. I was trying to understand through 


Gerald and through his entire experience, so bizarre and violent, what 
that gentle lesson was. 

"Gerald, I want to get back later perhaps to what you meant by 
'clean' — you used the term when speaking of Richard /Rita before 
dinner. But just now, something else is on my mind." We were sitting 
in his den after dinner. "Having read the transcript of the exorcism 
and talked extensively with Richard /Rita, my questions to you center 
around sexuality and love. For instance, why were you nicknamed the 
'Virgin' in the seminary?" I had learned this from Gerald's friends. 

"I was the only one who didn't know the nickname for half my 
seminary days". As to their reason for it, it seems I gave the impression 
of not knowing anything about sex." 

"Did you?" 

"Not really. I had seen diagrams and pictures, that sort of stuff. I 
could distinguish a passionate kiss from a friendly or affectionate one 
in the movies. But sex as such remained a hidden thing for me." 

"But didn't you have the normal feelings about twelve or thirteen or 

"I don't know what you mean by 'normal.' I never had one of those 
nocturnal ejaculations. Never yet had one. When I started to grow hair 
on various places, it sort of wasn't there one day, and the next day it 

"Did you ever masturbate?" 

"Never. Not that I wanted to. I didn't. Erections around the age of 
puberty and later just were taken by me as happening to me. It sounds 
funny" — he grinned boyishly — "but not as something about which I 
had to do something. Embarrassing. But then my father took me for a 
walk and gave me his set speech on sex which he gave to all my four 
brothers. It always began with the affirmation: 'Look, Gerry, you have 
a penis. And it is used for two things neither of which it does very 
well: urinating and copulating.' All of us knew the speech by heart. 
Then he explained clinically what copulation was." 

I steered the conversation to the time just before Gerald had 
entered the seminary: had he gone out with girls or dated them or 
done anything more complicated than that? Apparently he used to 
take the sisters of his school friends to see a movie now and then, 
usually in a group. He went to some dances, but never really enjoyed 
them. He avoided them whenever he could. He was embarrassed by 
girls and by women in general. 

He was on his feet now. "Let's take a turn in the garden. It will help 


oil the wheels." We went outside. It was already night. A few clouds 
lazed across the stars. There was no moon. The garden was partially lit 
by the lights from the house. As we walked down toward the tulip 
beds we entered greater darkness. A few lights could be seen winking 
on the distant mountainside. There was very little sound. 

"Ever kiss a girl?" 

"No. Not passionately. Never." He had been looking away while 
talking. Now he glanced quizzically at me. "Why all the questions 
about my sexual life?" 

"This is my way — perhaps roundabout, but anyhow — this is my way 
of finding out what you now understand about love and masculinity 
and femininity, and what you learned in the exorcism on this score." 

We stood for a short while taking in the calm of the night and the 
distant lights. Then I began again. 

"Let me put it like this, Gerald. I take it you entered adult 
life — even your life as a priest — with very flimsy notions of what sex 
was all about, and ..." 

"There you go again," he interrupted good-humoredly. We traveled 
a few paces in silence. "I suppose basically I was like that once — 
minus the experience. I mean: of course, I realized about eighteen or 
nineteen that there was a very powerful thing called sex. But" — he 
stopped and looked out over the tulip beds — "it was always something 
I knew about. In my mind. With concepts. In myself, I felt there was 
this mighty urge. Never gave it any leeway. Once a girl tried to kiss me 
on the lips. I was frightened by the — uh the — " He fumbled for the 
right word but couldn't find it. "Look. Something told me if I let it go 
inside in me, it would rule me." Then triumphantly and raising his 
voice: "The rawness! That's it. The kiss felt raw." 

"And dirty for you?" 

"No. Lovely raw. But too lovely. Kind of tumultuously lovely. Only 
I couldn't handle that tumult, I knew." 

We turned around to stroll back toward the house. "Well, anyway, 
Gerald, what difference did the exorcism make to all this?" 

"I suppose the best way to say it is the simple way. R/R thought for 
years that gender and sex were the same thing, for all practical 
purposes. So did I, come to think of it. Don't know about you." We 
were coming up to the house, and the light fell on his face. "You may 
remember from the transcript. The crux of the Girl-Fixer's resistance 
lay there. ["Girl-Fixer" was the given name of the evil spirit expelled 
from Richard/ Rita.] And it took all that talk and pain to let me see it." 


He stood facing the windows, his face and eyes bright and clear. "In 
a nutshell, Malachi. As I now understand it since the exorcism, when 
two people — a man and a woman — love each other, are making love, I 
now understand they are reproducing God's love and God's life. 
Sound's banal. And it sounds trite. Even sounds evasive and vague and 
feathery. But that's it. Either that, or here you have two more or less 
highly developed animals copulating — rutting, whatever you want to 
call it — and the ending is just sweet sweat, a few illusions, perhaps, 
and then a let's-get-back-to-normal-existence sort of thing. Do-or-die. 
Now-or-never. Go bust in the effort. Anything you like. Could even 
learn from kangaroos, if that were the way with it." He turned his 
head in a comical way and said: "Ever see two kangaroos courting and 
copulating? I did. In a documentary. Extraordinary. Extraordinary." 
He shook his head. 

"Well, apart from any practical significance that might have for you 
now, Gerald, you being celibate and all that . . ." 

"And with a few more months to live," he said gently but not testily, 
as if to make quite clear he took into account the deadline of his life. 

"Okay. Apart from that, maybe we'll get back to that subject. But 
explain something to me. Isn't there an in-between stage? I mean: men 
and women aren't just animals. But neither are they performing an act 
of worship of God. Or are they? Is that what you're saying?" 

"Aaaah! The good-and-natural-act business." He was mimicking 
someone I did not know, probably some professor of his seminary days. 
"Well." This last word was said with sardonic emphasis. "As I now 
understand us men and women, we go through this world finding our 
way through facts and facts and more facts. Mountains of facts. But no 
matter what we do or get to know, all the time we are experiencing 
spirit. God's spirit." 

He looked across to the lights of the nearby town. "And sometimes 
it's an experience in thoughts we think. Or it comes in words we hear. 
More often, it's an experience by intuition. A direct 'looking-at.' Some 
of those perceptions come like messages sent you. You hear children 
laughing, or see a beautiful valley in the midday sun. But you're 
mainly passive. At other times, you're doing something. And that's 
better still. Like when you have compassion for someone, or forgive 

We were down again at the tulip beds. He stopped at the middle 
one, where he had been working earlier, and looked at the silent 
flowers. They gleamed with wisps of color in the distant reflection of 


light from the house. "But in love and lovemaking, it's the highest. 
Both are acting. Both taking. Both giving. Nobody's passive." 

At this point I made an objection, saying I had no concept of how 
men and women reproduce God's love and God's life when they love 
each other. We might say that, perhaps, in a remote and metaphorical 
way. But, then, the tulips do the same. And the kangaroos. All these, 
including men and women, may not know they're reproducing God's 
life and God's love, metaphorically. But they do. Or don't they? This 
was my question. 

He turned away from me and faced the mountain range. His voice 
came in short murmurs, as if he were reading cue cards visible only to 
him. "You remember the Girl-Fixer, and my struggle with it. You 
remember?" The crux of that struggle between Gerald and the evil 
spirit possessing Richard/ Rita had concerned the meaning of love and 
of loving. "Well," he continued, "on the plateau of love — and I don't 
mean the climax of an act of love only, but the plateau of love 
itself — man and woman are both caught up in a dynamic of love. No 
past. No standing still. No anticipation. No then, now, and next. Just 
the black velvet across which all stars flash. No oblivion. All . . ." 

"But, Gerald, God — where's God in all this? You started off talking 
about God, as if the lovers were locked into an intuitive sharing of 
Gods life." 

He wheeled around and said almost fiercely: "That's God! That's 
what God is like." He turned away again, as if looking for inspiration. 
"God's no static and immutable quantum, as we understand those 
words. That's the God in books. But — an eternal dynamic, always 
becoming, without having begun, without going to an end. Becoming 
without changing. No then. No now. No next." As he turned and 
started to walk back toward the house, I fell into step with him. 

"But there are two in our case. Man and woman." 

"Ah," he said, tossing his head backward in a slight gesture, "that's 
the condition we're in. And that's the price." 

"The price?" 

"Yes, the price. In order to have that participation in God's being, 
the two must reproduce God's oneness. Must love. Truly love. You 
can't fake it." 

"But what part — if you can speak like that — of God does a man 
reproduce and what part does a woman reproduce?" 

"None. By himself and by herself. Or in himself or in herself. None. 
Nothing that is physical. Only in love and loving." 


''Well, in love and in loving, what do they reproduce?" We stopped 
halfway up the garden. Gerald was looking at me steadily, as if 
searching for something. After a moment, he drew in a deep breath 
and said softly: "As far as I know, God is beautiful, is beauty itself. 
Beauty in being. Being that is beauty. And God's will is in full 
possession of that beauty, that being. In human love, woman loving is 
that being's echo; and man desiring is that will's parallel. In their love, 
will is locked with being. They simply reproduce, know, participate in 
God's life and love, in God's self some way or other. Otherwise, let's 
go back to those kangaroos — or chimpanzees." 

"Weil, even granting all that," I said to him as we started to walk 
again, "tell me, what does masculine and feminine mean for you now, 
in the light of all that?" 

"Remember Richard/Rita's crux?" He looked at me, knowing I did. 

This had been the center of the Pretense in the exorcism. 
Richard /Rita had presumed the ultimate source of masculinity and 
femininity was the same as that of sexuality — the body, the chemistry 
of the body. 

"And none of Richard/ Rita's most extreme efforts, even the 
operation, worked for him. He wasn't basically androgynous. No one 
is, for that matter. We're basically and immutably masculine or 
feminine. Nature may goof and give us the wrong genitals for our 
gender. No matter. Apart from a mutant form of that kind, our sexual 
apparatus corresponds to what we are — feminine or masculine. 
Androgyny is baloney." 

I laughed at the rhyme and the slang. But I had a real difficulty. 
According to Gerald the feminine — femininity — corresponded to 
God's being; the masculine or masculinity, to God's will. The essence 
of God, in our human way of thinking, would be feminine in that case. 
"If you are correct, Gerald, God, to speak in human terms, is feminine 
rather than masculine." 

"Of course. More powerful. Creative. In her own being, the 
ultimate theater — not the object — of human longing." 

"What about the He's and the Him's and the His's of the Bible? And 
Israel like a woman God loves and woos? And all that?" 

"Just a good dosage of Semitic chauvinism. Plus a lot of ignorance. 
And a good deal more of all men's chauvinism down the ages. Men 
have been in charge from the beginning. Even in Buddhism. Just 
because the Buddha was a man." 

"So, feminine is something of the spirit essentially?" 


"Only of the spirit." 

"And masculine also?" 

"Right. A bird doesn't fly because it has wings. It has wings because 
it flies. A man isn't masculine because he has a penis and scrotum, nor 
a woman feminine because she has vagina and womb and estrogen or 
whatever. They have all that — if they have it — because she's feminine 
and he's masculine. Even if they lack some or all of those things, they 
are still masculine and feminine." 

We were back on the patio. Gerald was about to open the door, and 
I should have left it at that. It was already late. I had to travel back to 
the town and catch a bus to the airport. Gerald, under doctor's orders, 
should have been in bed over an hour ago. But chiefly, if I had not 
gone on talking and probing, I would not have had, as a consequence 
of my probing, to bear an almost intolerable pain on Gerald's account. 
I went on unknowingly: "Gerald, tell me one more thing before I leave 
you in peace. With all that we have said in mind, do you now regret 
that you never fell in love or that you never made love and never will 
make love with a woman?" 

As always when you make a mistake, you begin to sense it vaguely 
and go on in desperation trying to remedy the situation. 

"I know you don't regret your priesthood. I know your vow of 
celibacy is dear to you. But, all that aside for one moment, have you 
regrets?" Gerald let go of the door handle gently. His head bowed as 
he dropped his eyes. I could no longer catch his expression. The 
sudden silence between us was not merely an absence of words. It was 
the abrupt severance of all communication. I felt perspiration on my 

He stood for a moment in the patio light, looking thin, askew, frail, 
as if a great weight had been laid on him. I noticed age lines and a 
gauntness that had escaped me earlier. His face was immobile, but the 
"Jesus patch" was now of a deeper color. Then he stepped slowly onto 
the grass, limping, and started to walk with short steps down toward 
the tulips. I followed and started to say something, but he silenced me 
with a small, slow gesture of his right hand. A couple of yards from the 
flower beds he slowed to a stop. I did not dare look at him, and at first 
I heard no sound from him. But I knew r he was crying. Then, as the 
minutes passed, I realized that this was not a sobbing or a voiced 
crying. He was not shaking, but very quiet and still. His tears were 
flowing steadily, ground out of him by some deep sorrow long ago 
accepted and whose pain he knew intimately. Merely, on this 


occasion, I had evoked that pain and its sorrow beyond his control. I 
knew he had to finish it in his own way. Nothing could console him 
and stop those tears. Seneca said once: "When a man cries, either he 
cries on his own mother's shoulder, or he cries alone." Gerald was 

It lasted several minutes. Then putting both hands to his eyes and 
wiping them, he said simply: "I know you understand the meaning of 
these." His voice was strangely deep and very unlike the tones he had 
used all evening. Then it had come from someone alive and vibrant in 
his own way, walking and talking near me. Now it came from very far 
away; deep, grave, solemn, he was speaking clearly to me from 
another terrain where he alone had walked, where his fate had been 
decided, and where the very self of him had never ceased to be ever 
since. It was an exorcist speaking from the lonely world he must 
always inhabit, alone with his grisly knowledge, his bruised memories, 
and his blind trust locked desperately on to all-powerful love for a final 

"Don't be sorry, Malachi. No reproaches. It's just that no one should 
have to put up with this in another. These are tears to be shed in 
solitude." He straightened up and cleared his throat. I could see him 
take in the whole horizon, turning his head slowly and meditatively 
from side to side. "Somewhere in my world," he said out loud, but as if 
speaking to himself, "somewhere, at some time during the years I have 
spent in it, there must have been or even now must be someone, some 
woman with whom love would have been possible. I shall never see 
her eyes or hear her voice or feel the touch of her fingers. I could have 
tasted God's eternity and ecstasy with her. And I could have seen 
God's comeliness on her hair and on her breasts. Somewhere. 
Someone. But I never shall. Not now. Not ever. I shall never share in 
her mystery of God's self-contained glory. 

"And you know well, I am not crying because of missed opportunity 
or frustration. So help me." He wiped his eyes again. "In one way, I 
don't know why I am crying. And, at the same time, I do know very 
well. Once you finger the innards of a situation such as R/R was in, 1 
think the terrible fragility of human love becomes more beautiful and 
you are frightened for its safety. Poor R/R and his delicate dreams! He 
really, genuinely yearned to be feminine and to love as only woman 

He turned and faced toward the house. His eyes were still wet and 
glistening, but washed bright: "Is that why lovers sometimes cry tears 


at their happiest moments?" Apparently, at that moment, the tears 
started to flow again, because he looked away quickly toward the 

"Many a woman and many a man must have had R/R's same 
beautiful dream," he said through the pain, "saw it within finger's 
touch, reached for it, and found it blighted before they held it." A 
pause. "I don't know why I cry for them. Feeling for them, perhaps. 
For only Jesus can mend the fracture of their spirit." 

I waited until he seemed to have stopped crying. There was one last 
question I wanted to ask him, about Jesus. But he spoke before I did: 
"Of course, I have regrets. I would be a liar if I said otherwise. The 
regrets I have are for the intuitions I never had. Any man or woman 
I've ever known who really loved, all told me that in really loving, the 
physical was a couch or bed for a flight of intuitions. He no longer felt 
himself merely in her or near her. She no longer felt herself merely 
around him or near him. It went beyond that into — what's this one 
woman said? — uh — an 'allness' she said. Or, as one man said to me, 
'full togetherness.' He meant: with himself, with his wife, with God, 
with earth, with life." 

I asked Gerald if, mingled in his knowledge and his partial regrets, 
he thought of the loss of children he might have had. He replied that 
his having or not having children was something else again. I pursued 
the point, however, suggesting that perhaps one lament of deep pathos 
and suffering for him in Richard/Rita's case was Richard/Rita's total 
inability to have children. No matter how much love Richard /Rita 
dreamed of and achieved, it could never be a life-giving love. His 
would always be a crippled dream. 

Gerald reminded me of what Richard /Rita kept screaming at the 
end of the exorcism as he thrashed back and forth. He had screamed 
again and again: "Life and love! Love and life! Life and love!" until 
they covered his mouth with masking tape. "Now," concluded Gerald, 
"like Richard /Rita, I will have to wait until I cross over to the other 
side, in order to find life from love and love from life. At present, I am 
time's eunuch for life and love in eternity." With the last sentence the 
timbre of his voice had subtly changed. 

He now sounded more or less like the Gerald who had entertained 
me earlier that evening. We started walking back to the house. As we 
passed out through the hall and front door, he quoted Jesus: " Tn the 
Kingdom of Heaven, they neither give their daughters in marriage nor 


are given in marriage.' No marriage there," he commented musingly. 
"No need for it." 

"Gerald, about Jesus." 

He broke in on me. "He was — is — God. No woman, no human 
lovemaking was needed to enrich him." 

"Can we make love then, do we make love, because we are merely 

"Only because we are human. Once possessed of God and possessed 
by God, there's no point in making love. You have all that human love 
can give you and much more. Love itself." 

Nobody who had seen Gerald starting off life as a young priest 
would have guessed he would end as an exorcist condemned to an 
early death. Born in Parma, Ohio, reared in Dijon, France, until he 
was fourteen years old, educated from that time in Cleveland, 
ordained priest in 1948, Gerald was sent as an assistant to an outlying 
parish of Chicago. 

There and in other parishes Gerald served as an assistant for 23 
uneventful years. During that time he acquired a reputation for solid 
common sense. He was unflappable even in the most trying circum- 
stances. Sometimes he was criticized for being a little too unworldly — 
"Not very worldly-wise," a colleague would remark now and then. 
But, whenever a crisis arose, Gerald's judgments and decisions 
generally proved to be the right ones. 

One day he was called by the pastor of a neighboring parish and 
asked to go there for a consultation. When he arrived at the priest's 
house, he was told the story of a young man, Richard O., an employee 
of an insurance company, who had recently come to live in the 
neighborhood. He was not Roman Catholic, but his two brothers and 
some close friends of his had gone spontaneously to the old priest for 
help and counsel. Their brother and friend, Richard, had been 
deteriorating for some time now. They had tried doctors and 
psychologists. Then Richard had been persuaded to visit a Lutheran 
minister. After that, a rabbi had prayed over him. But the deteriora- 
tion still continued. 

Richard's brothers were quite frank when they talked to the two 
priests in the parlor of the rectory. They gave a brief sketch of 
Richard /Rita's life up to that moment. "Father, we are not Catholics. 
We don't believe in the Catholic Church, or in any church, for that 


matter. But we will do anything, anything at all, go to any length, in 
order to help our brother." The old priest excused himself and Gerald 
for a moment. They went outside. 

The pastor had several questions for Gerald. Did he think Richard 
O. was a case of possession? Gerald did not know; he had never come 
across such a case. Shouldn't they alert the bishop? Gerald had already 
chatted with "young Billy" (the bishop's nickname among his priests). 
There was no official diocesan exorcist. The bishop knew nothing 
about it, and he wanted to know less. "Let's take it step by step from 
the top downward," counseled Gerald cheerfully. 

They returned to the parlor and asked the two brothers for Richard 
O.'s medical and psychological reports. They could have them 
immediately, Gerald was assured. Gerald asked if Richard knew of the 
brothers' visit to see the pastor and himself. Bert said he did not think 

4 'He may," Gerald rejoined. And then he went on to explain that, if 
Richard were really possessed by an evil spirit, he could easily know 
much more than his brothers told him. 

This conversation took place three days after Christmas. The reports 
arrived early in the New Year. With the permission of his own pastor, 
Gerald went to live temporarily in the rectory of his old friend in order 
to be near Richard O. At the beginning of February, having digested 
the reports and spoken to the doctors and psychologists, he accompa- 
nied Richard's two brothers on a first visit to Richard. 

Richard /Rita received them quite pleasantly in his house. That day 
he seemed inordinately happy. He spoke to them about himself and 
made no bones about his condition. He said that sometimes, as at that 
moment, he saw things clearly and knew he needed some kind of help. 
At other times, from what people told him, he went all funny. It was a 
constant change in him. And it was too painful and abrupt and 
unpredictable for him to carry on like that much longer. "Help me if 
you can," he added. "Even if later I tell you to go to Hell, help me. I'll 
sign any documents necessary." 

Willingly, Richard/ Rita said in answer to Gerald's proposal, he 
would go to Chicago and undergo tests by doctors and psychologists of 
Gerald's choosing. The following day they went to Chicago together. 
By some happy circumstance the visit there and the tests conducted 
by the psychologists and doctors went off without incident. Richard/ 
Rita had no lapse into his sudden fits. 

While they were in Chicago, Gerald and the old priest went to see 


the only exorcist they could track down within reaching distance. He 
was a Dominican friar, an ex-missionary, who lived in retirement in a 
Chicago suburb. He smiled grimly as they told him their story. 

"Better you than me, boys," he said quietly. "Let me put you 
through the rite of Exorcism and give you a few tips of my own for 
yourself and the assistants. I learned a thing or two in Korea. It wasn't 
all wasted." 

The old man inculcated the first principles of Exorcism. He warned 
Gerald not to try to take the place of Jesus. It was only by the name 
and power of Jesus, he emphasized, that any evil spirit could be 
exorcised. He schooled him in the various traps that awaited the 
unwary: the dangers of any logical argument with the possessing spirit; 
the need of strong, silent assistants; and the customary procedure of an 

Gerald had to return several times to Chicago with Richard /Rita 
after the first occasion. He went by himself to see some theologians in 
order to get a more accurate knowledge of what went on during an 
exorcism. Richard/ Pita himself had to make several trips in connec- 
tion with his office work. All in all, it was the beginning of March 
before everything was in readiness. Gerald felt that he had taken all 
possible precautions. Intrigued as all the medical and psychiatric 
examiners were with Richard/ Rita's history and transsexual operation, 
they had satisfied themselves that Richard/Rita was medically and 
psychologically as normal as any other person, and that he was not 
indulging in any strange fun and games in order to attract attention. 
This had been suggested by one of the psychologists. The rite of 
Exorcism, Gerald decided, would do no harm. 

For the actual exorcism, he had chosen five assistants. Richard/ 
Rita's two brothers, Bert and Jasper, had volunteered for the job. The 
old pastor had secured the services of the local police captain and of 
an English teacher from the parish school. Richard's landlord, Michael 
S., a Greek-American, a good friend of the old pastor, had been told of 
the exorcism and spontaneously offered himself. Gerald chose as his 
own priest assistant a young man recently posted to his parish, a 
Father John. 

Only once or twice in the last month before the exorcism was 
Gerald's courage shaken. At one moment, the old Dominican friar took 
him aside as he and the pastor were leaving him after one of their 
visits. He asked Gerald if he was a virgin. He was, replied Gerald, but 
what difference could that make? The Dominican answered him rather 


offhandedly, trying to play down the import of his question. It made 
no difference, he said. It was just that Gerald would have more to 
suffer. At least, that is what he thought. 

Questioned closely by Gerald as to why he thought so, the 
Dominican looked at him for a moment; then he said in a still voice: 
"You haven't paid your dues. You don't really know what's in you. 
But" — he wandered over to the door and opened it — "They do. 
Now" — motioning to where the old pastor was waiting for Gerald — 
"your friend is waiting. Go in peace. And don't be afraid. This is your 
lot." As Gerald and his old friend drove back home, they chatted 
about the whole matter. It was clear to him, the pastor said, that when 
one spent years in a certain type of job — the pastor in his parish, the 
old friar in his missionary work — you got a special sense. You can't 
share it with anyone. You don't want to, really. And what it tells you 
isn't always pleasant. Sometimes you see dark, abiding presences 
where others see nothing but light. "It's all very funny," the pastor 
remarked to Gerald, who had fallen silent and thoughtful. "Don't try 
to understand. You can't get old before your time. It would tear the 
heart out of you." 

The nearer the mid-March date of the exorcism came, the more 
unreal it all seemed to the participants, especially to Gerald. This was 
chiefly because of Richard/Rita. There was in those last days no sign 
of deterioration in him, no fits. All was calm and normal. He even 
received them all in his house the night before the appointed day and 
served them a dinner he had cooked himself. Afterward, he helped 
them arrange the room where the exorcism would be done and chatted 
amicably with them before they left. Gerald had brought the 
paraphernalia of Exorcism with him — crucifix, stole, surplice, ritual 
book, holy-water flask. On the suggestion of the old Dominican, a 
stretcher had been borrowed from a local clinic; they might need it for 

All were to assemble at 8:00 a.m. the following morning. For Gerald 
there were some swift seconds with an awry note. He was the last 
down the pathway out to the road where he had parked his car. As he 
turned back to close the latch on the gate, he saw Richard /Rita 
silhouetted in the main doorway of his little house. Gerald could not at 
that distance read the look in Richard/Rita's eyes, but Richard /Rita's 
hands caught his attention. 

When the pastor and Gerald had left him at the door, Gerald 
remembered clearly, Richard /Rita's right hand, with open palm 


toward them, had been raised slightly in a goodbye gesture. The left 
had been resting on the doorknob. But now, as he looked back at 
Richard /Rita, the right hand was splayed out like a claw pointing 
toward him. The left, palm turned up, fingers slightly curled, was held 
stiffly. Gerald felt a shudder in his spine. 

"Come on, Gerald! Someone walking on your grave, I suppose?" It 
was the old pastor pulling his leg good-humoredly. Richard /Rita 
waved to them again and went inside. 


The story of Richard O. is only in part, but nonetheless importantly, 
the story of a transsexual. He was born physically a male, but with an 
ineradicable desire to be a woman. In his childhood his ideas and 
wishes were nebulous. In adulthood he firmly believed that each one 
of us can be male or female, masculine or feminine; that each one has 
an almost equal dosage of maleness and femaleness, of masculinity and 
femininity, before culture and civilization and social environment, as 
the persuasion goes, make little boys little boys and little girls little 
girls. He finally underwent the transsexualization operation — success- 
fully, in medical terms. He then took the name Rita. 

Richard had a very clear and very early understanding of the 
difference between femininity and masculinity, and he was attracted 
by the seeming mystery of the feminine and repelled by the 
inadequacy of being restricted only to the masculine. From the age of 
sixteen on, Richard's aim was to let the feminine in him emerge, so 
that he could supplement his masculine inadequacy with the self- 
sufficient mystery of femininity. 

From sixteen to twenty-five he actively sought, in full confidence 
and trust, to think, feel, and act "androgynously"; he was persuaded 
that he could have the union of feminine and masculine in himself. But 
the result was a great aloneness (not, at that stage, loneliness) with 
none of that desired union. At twenty-five he sought in marriage the 
same union. It did not work; he found neither the unity nor the union 
of love; and the androgynous persuasion in him withered. 

From his divorce at age twenty-nine, through his transsexualizing 
operation at age thirty-one, up to his exorcism at age thirty-three, he 
developed into a "watcher on the sidelines," jealous of the supremacy 
of the feminine, fascinated by the essential function of the masculine. 


The mystery of femininity became something to unshroud; in Rich- 
ard's case his unshrouding of it amounted to blasphemy and a type of 
physicomoral degradation which haunts him today. The vitality of the 
masculine became a weapon for him; he saw it as a means of death. 

By the end of the summer 1971, he had voluntarily become 
possessed by an evil spirit which responded to the name of "Girl- 
Fixer." This possession had started many years previously. His violent 
revolt against possession ended finally in his undergoing the Exorcism 
rite performed by Father Gerald. But, until after his exorcism, Richard 
saw his problem as one of chemical substance, of brain modification, or 
of cultural adaptation, never as a dilemma of his spirit. 

The exorcism was successful. He was freed. But Richard/ Rita ended 
up, as he is today, in an unenviable position: neither male nor female; 
not a sexual neuter, but, nevertheless, in a no-man's-land between 
masculine and feminine. 

Not all the details of his life are pertinent for understanding what 
happened to him. We need only a relatively few scenes and details of 
childhood and early teenage. It is the triple stage he passed through as 
an adult which illustrates to some degree his condition at the time of 

Richard/ Rita presents in vivid outline the classical puzzle of all 
possessed people who, though possessed (always to some extent with 
their consent), still at some point revolt against that very possession. 
And why should Richard /Rita, and not any of the other transsexuals 
known to many of us in ordinary life, have been thus possessed in the 
first place? 

Richard/Rita was born Richard O. in Detroit, Michigan, the third in 
a family of six children (three boys, three girls). The family lived in a 
semidetached two-story frame house which stood in a suburban area, 
predominantly white and upper-income bracket. His mother was 
Lutheran, his father, Jewish; the children were baptized as Lutherans; 
but religion did not play a prominent role in the family life. His 
mother's Lutheranism was as unimportant to her as Jewishness was 
unimportant to his father. It was a family in easy financial circum- 
stances, governed with a light hand, and no more or no less 
self-consciously united than any other on the street. 

Richard's father worked a regular nine-to-five day in an insurance 
office, spent most of his free time with the boys. He was a boating and 
open-air enthusiast, and went fishing and shooting in Canada during 


summer vacations. First, the two elder boys, Bert and Jasper, and then, 
when he passed his ninth year, Richard participated in these vacations. 

An ideal held more or less unconsciously by each of the boys was to 
be like their father — strong, athletic, outdoor. To be a man. Richard's 
first memories of this ideal include a day in December when he was in 
the park with his father walking Flinny, the family dog. He was 
throwing a ball for the dog to retrieve. As the dog leaped, twisted, 
caught the ball, and returned running to them, his father remarked 
that that was how Richard must be — taut, ready to jump and run and 
catch. The movements of the dogs body became a rhythm of ideal 
supremacy and independent strength for Richard: leaping, thrusting, 
and striving as a well-knit frame in an armor of self-reliance and 
resilience that absorbed bumps, knocks, cold, heat, swift changes in 
direction, and sudden bursts of energy. "Look how Flinny throws 
himself into it all!" he remembers his father's cry of admiration and 

The discordant note in this recollection arises in Richard's memory 
of what happened when they returned home. When he saw his mother 
and his sisters, he felt a struggle in himself; and without understanding 
why, he was comparing their movements and the sound of their voices 
with those of his father and of Flinny. But the incident passed as a 

The three boys were tall and dark in coloring. The girls were small, 
narrow-waisted, and blonde, like their mother. A family trait shared by 
all six children with their mother was the uneven earlobe: the right 
earlobe was noticeably smaller than the left one. 

The girls gravitated, in younger years, to their mother, who never 
lost a certain apparent dourness, even in her smile and affection. But 
she had, as well, a hilarious sense of humor sprinkled with irony. 

Each child was sent to kindergarten, then public school, and 
afterward to college. In their world there was no hint of the social 
developments which were to mark the 1960s and 1970s. Coast-to-coast 
television was just on the drawing boards. Female liberation was 
unborn. Later trends such as unisex and bisexuality were hidden. 
Homosexuality was still in the closet. Sexual permissiveness and the 
wholesale dilution of the family as a unit were unknown. The young 
had not yet been seized by the radicalizing passions of 20 years later. 
They had not yet started that quick and hazardous trek from infancy 
into immediate adulthood without any childhood and youth in the 
traditional sense of those words. Little boys were still little boys, and 


little girls were still little girls. Nobody had voiced any doubt about 

It was Richard himself who felt the first doubts. The first time a 
change made itself felt in him always remained clear in his memory. 
One afternoon in the late 1940s, when Richard O. was almost nine 
years old, he had the first remote intimations of another world utterly 
different from the one to which he was accustomed. 

Until his summer vacation that year on a small farm belonging to his 
mother's brother, some 40 miles outside St. Joseph, Missouri, Richard 
had never known a day not spent in the asphalt streets, among the city 
buildings, on the cement pavements, accompanied by the continuous 
hum of traffic, in Detroit, Michigan. He had never seen geese, turkeys, 
or chickens. Black walnuts, hickory trees, hazelnuts, sweet corn, 
pumpkins, rabbits, alfalfa hay, timothy, wild ducks, all the common- 
place elements of a farm were novelties that crowded his mind and 
sensations for the first time. It was, above all, the immensities of the 
place that seemed to awe him — the clear sky, the Missouri River, the 
unblocked view of huge stretches of land. 

The incident took place three days before he returned to Detroit. It 
was about five o'clock in the afternoon. He had spent most of the day 
on the tractor with his uncle sowing soybeans. Now there remained 
one more field to be done. It was a long field with a sloping hump 
running at an angle across its middle. On one of the field's long sides 
there was a small pond. On the other side there was the thinning edge 
of a wood which stretched back for about half a mile. It was Richard's 
turn to rest. He lay down among the trees at the edge of the wood and 
watched as his uncle drove the tractor in long swatches over the 
central hump from one end of the field to the other. 

These were the last hours of what had been a bright and cloudless 
day. Across the field and beyond the pond to the west, Richard's eyes 
could see the sun setting slowly over the Kansas bluffs. His eyes 
followed lazily the light of the sun already beginning to slant over the 
bluffs, down across the 20 or so miles of fields and woods that bordered 
the Missouri, then across the river and back to the black-brown stretch 
of the field. He listened to the meadow larks singing on the edge of the 
pond. High up in the sky, balancing against the wind from the 
southwest, a bird hovered. Two sounds, both with their own peculiar 
rhythm, filled his ears. The noise of the tractor, at first mechanical and 
clashing, became a lovely thing for him. It rose as his uncle passed by 
where he lay, then sank again as the tractor climbed the hump, went 


out of sight on the other side. Then it started to rise again as the 
tractor climbed the far side of the hump, came into view, and roiled 
down past him and on to the far right, where it turned and came back 
to cut another long furrow. 

The other sound was the light evening wind in the elms and maples 
around him. At first he did not notice it. Then it thrust itself on his 
consciousness as a rising and falling series of lightly breathed notes. 
When he lay on his side and looked up, he could see nothing but the 
gently moving foliage of the trees and the blue sky as a dappled 
pavement beyond them. 

Almost with no break in his own sensations, he became peculiarly 
aware of his own body as it lay on the moss and ferns at the edge of the 
wood. The smell of wild honeysuckle and late May apple flowers 
mingled with the sharp freshness of some elm leaves he had been 
twisting and shredding in his hands. He became aware that insects, 
innumerable to judge from the noise, were droning and buzzing 
somewhere above his head among the leaves and branches. Everything 
seemed warm and living; and his body and feelings now appeared to 
him as part of, not separate from, some throbbing whole, mysterious 
with its own hidden voices and its shrouded secrets. 

He twisted flat on his back, looking up at the waving leaves, 
translucent with sunshine, and watching the birds flitting from branch 
to branch, chattering and fighting and picking. He could hear faintly in 
the distance an occasional bobwhite calling out its two notes. A 
squirrel ran into his view now and then as it scurried from tree trunk 
to branch. All his muscles and sinews were relaxed. There was no 
tension. He was sharing through body and mind in some unperturbed 
softness and wholeness, but not an immobile or silent wholeness. All 
and everything was moving, doing, becoming. And, as he now 
remembers it, instinctively he listened to the wind in the trees as a 
voice, as voices, as a message of this great, whole softness. The rising 
and falling ring of the tractor became a background music. He felt 
unaccountable tears in his eyes and an ache that gave him peculiar 
pleasure somewhere deep in him. 

Years later and in much more critical circumstances, he would 
admit to himself that those sounds and sensations, particularly the 
wind, had been the vehicle of some news, some information. It 
seemed, in retrospect, as if he had been told something and later 
remembered the secret meaning of the message, but could not recall 
the words used or the tone and identity of the messenger. 


The tractor finally drew up beside him, his uncle climbed down, and 
they both walked slowly back to the house. 

Richard had two more days on the farm before returning home to 
Detroit. He spent them wandering in the vegetable garden, lying in 
the woods, or sitting on the edge of the pond. He was trying to 
recapture that magic moment of the previous evening. But he found 
only silence. He was, as he put it later, encased again in the hard shell 
of his body. 

His uncle and aunt took his behavior as a sign of unhappiness 
because he would be leaving soon for Detroit. And when he cried as 
they turned out of the driveway onto the main road which led them to 
St. Joseph and his train, they took his sadness as a compliment to 
them: their nephew wanted to stay. The vacation had been a success. 
"I will come back. I will come back," Richard remembers saying to 
nobody in particular. "Please, let me come back." 

On his return home, his suntan, the acquired strength of his arms, 
his healthy complexion, his new and detailed knowledge of farm and 
country delighted his family. His father was proud: "Now, Richard, 
you're becoming a real man!" 

But it was his mother and sisters who caught Richard's attention. 
When they talked or laughed or moved, he had feelings indefinably 
similar to those moments on the edge of the wood. Sisters and mother 
seemed to carry some detailed mystery, some wholeness, to be supple 
and malleable. His father and brothers — quick in their movements, 
deliberate in gestures, assured in their walk, purposeful in whatever 
they did — seemed to Richard to be wrapped in hard shells. They 
repelled him. And, at the same time, he felt ashamed at being repelled 
by what should be his ideal. The voices of his father and brothers had 
no overtones for him, no wisps of meaning, no subtle resonances. 

Although he could not analyze all this at that time, he felt it. Of 
course, he could not mention it or discuss it with anyone there. All he 
could do, he did. As if speaking to the wind and the trees and the 
colors and the birds of the farm, he thought (perhaps felt is the better 
expression): "I don't want to leave you. I want to be as you." At that 
age and for quite some time afterward, he did not know exactly who 
that "you" was. 

Daily life at home and at school closed in around him. In athletics 
he was as good as the next boy. He always got good grades. After his 
twelfth year, he became an avid reader. At home and in school he was 
known as a normal boy, more studious than outdoor, not overly gentle, 


not exceptionally shy, not in any way a "sissy" or a weakling, one who 
easily joined in groups and teams, and exceptionally affectionate and 
warm as an individual. 

Nothing ever obliterated his memory of the farm incident, but he 
never returned to St. Joseph. Subsequent vacations were spent with his 
father and brothers in Canada. And it was only toward the end of his 
seventeenth year that another incident occurred which again effected 
a profound change in Richard. 

He had joined a group of his own classmates who, under the 
supervision of an ex-forest ranger named Captain Nicholas, were to 
spend three weeks camping out in Colorado. The purpose of the 
vacation was to learn some of the arts of survival in the wilderness. 
Their schedule was a full and very active one. When it was over, they 
would know something about mountain climbing, swimming, life 
saving, gathering food, making fires, cooking, trapping, scaling trees, 
first aid, and seemingly anything else that Captain Nicholas could 
manage to teach them in those few weeks. When the vacation was 
finished, the eight had been invited to spend a last evening in the 
ranch house belonging to Captain Nicholas and his family. 

As part of survival training, each boy was to spend one night alone 
at some distance from the base camp. When Richard's turn for a night 
"out there alone" came around, he was instructed to spend it in a 
small clearing on a hillside overlooking a lake about a mile from the 
camp. He was given a whistle and told to signal in case he needed 
help. According to camp rules, the other boys and the forest ranger 
left him at nightfall. 

As their footsteps and shouts died away, Richard turned around to 
gather some brushwood for his fire. He was facing the lake about 150 
feet above its surface. It was ringed around with mountains covered 
with forests. The moon had already appeared full-faced over the rim of 
the mountainside and cast a sheen of light on the water below and on 
the silhouettes of the trees around him. The smell of resin was an 
abiding atmosphere in which he felt as a welcomed stranger. He was 
aware of very little sound except for the wind shaking the pine trees 
and skimming the water's surface with light ripples. The air was still 
warm, with a little chill just creeping into it. 

He stood for a moment to take his bearings so he would not get lost 
as he gathered his firewood. But the hush all around him seemed in a 
sudden instant to have opened. An invisible veil fell aside, and he was 
no longer a separate and distinct being from it all. 


His first reaction was fear and he groped for his whistle. The rule 
was: any sense of fear or apprehension must be signaled to the base 
camp by one long and one short whistle. No stigma was attached to 
this. It was part of the training program to recognize and respect such 

That first reaction, however, was almost immediately lost in a 
deeper sensation. Richard will swear today it was the same as if the 
night with its light, its weaving voice in the pine trees, its smells, and 
its seeming stillness was remonstrating with him and saying: "I am 
only secret. Not threat. I don't hurt. I reveal. Do not repel me." 

He dropped the whistle from his mouth and sat down on the slope, 
overwhelmed with one idea that kept drumming quietly at him in 
words that sounded like his own: "I have yielded. I am going against 
my training. But I want ... I have yielded . . . against my 
training . . ." About this time he felt surrounded by shapes and 
presences which had lain hidden or dormant up to this point. He was 
sure they were there, although he could not see them. Fear was gone. 
Only perplexity remained. The wind in the pines and the light on the 
water were part and parcel of those presences. But there was 
something else he could not recognize, could only accept or struggle to 
reject. Something spoke in the wind and shone in the light. All 
together, these mysterious things wove a web around his perplexity, 
washing it in a strange grace and, at the same time, softening some 
part inside him, some part of him that was supposed to be hard and 
insoluble, but that now was becoming soft, supple, diffuse, flowing into 
some mystery. He remembers murmuring again and again: "I have 
yielded ... I want to . . . against my training . . ." 

Then, even in the darkness, he began to notice details: the variant 
colors of rocks around him, different kinds of ruffles on the water, 
various shades to the trees, successive notes in the wind. And, in 
flashes of memory, was back in the past: on the edge of the woods in 
St. Joseph, listening to his sisters and his mother chatter and talk, 
watching his father dancing with his mother at a family celebration the 
previous winter, holding the hand of a high-school girlfriend as they 
walked home from the cinema. 

And, as that deep core of him melted, he heard his father's voice in 
a frequent phrase used to his sons, "Chin up, young man!" dying away 
into repulsive jumble, "We men must be strong. Chin up chin up 
young man chin man strong chin up man . . ." 

He felt his body shudder as if shaking off scales or armor. It did not 


go limp or cling to the ground. Rather, it was now a supple 
continuation of ground, light, the voice of the wind, the silver of the 
moon, the silence. His body seemed to hold the possibility of all 
natural things at once. He knew it was incredible. There was one last, 
clutching moment when something in him warned with a sharp voice. 

But, after an instant's inner pause, he appeared to himself to let go, 
willingly to accept, and to do so in almost poetic language: "I don't 
know you. I want what you are. I want to be in that mystery. I don't 
want a man's hardness and strength. I want your wholeness." He 
actually spoke the words. They tumbled out half-whispered, incredu- 
lous — for his brain kept telling him he was alone at night on the 
mountainside. But something more powerful, not in his brain, kept 
enticing him. He responded: "I want to be a woman . . . yes . . . man 
woman." He did not know the sense of what he was saying, but he 
kept saying it. And everything that night responded to him in 
turn — infallibly, it seemed to him — and said: "You will be. You can be. 
You will be. Secret. Strong. Mystery. Open. You will be. You can be. 
Woman. Man. Soft. Hard. All. You will be. You can be." 

He lost track of time. He lit no fire. He did not budge from where he 
sat. The moon rose and set. The wind waxed and waned. There were 
occasional cries from night owls, and once or twice the scream of a 
bird surprised by some night killer. Richard's memory recorded all this 
indirectly. Filling those hours was something else: the voice or the 
sensation of a voice which soared and sank in a melody of notes. 

Richard now underlines two things in his memory of that song. It 
had no particular rhythm, no detectable beat. It seemed to be fully 
and completely, but only, melody. More significantly, it told him 
nothing new or shocking or awesomely strange — he seemed to himself 
to have had all its notes already recorded in him; but now they were 
evoked as echoes to the melody. And, as they resonated, they 
delineated a quality or condition in which he always was but had 
never realized, much less ever expressed it in his taste, walk, glance, in 
the corners of his words where meaning's shadow hid, or even in his 
perception of the world around him. 

But no longer now was knowledge a thrust outward to grasp an 
objective, to obtain an exact pinpointing with the lens of logic — "fixing 
the cross-hairs on it," as his shooting-enthusiast father used to put it. In 
that melodized condition, all objectives were received within a 
delicate maze of sensibilities, emotions, reactions, intuitions. And, over 
all, a sense of sacrament, of pact with what made water and earth and 


air simultaneously strong and tender, soft and unyielding, masculine 
and feminine. For this sense of the possibilities of all natural things at 
once, in one condition, was an inner persuasion now. And he felt a 
light-footed, almost unstable touching on all things, with strength that 
was gentle, with firmness but no pride, with definitive choice but no 

On and on that melody went throughout the night, until at sunrise 
his classmates and Captain Nicholas found him sitting on the slope, 
fresh-faced, smiling, a little dreamy, but fully awake. 

Only Captain Nicholas noticed the change in Richard: the peculiar 
haze at the back of his eyes and the way he turned his head to greet 
them as they approached him. After the first bantering, as they were 
all clambering down the slope toward the camp for breakfast, the 
captain drew abreast of Richard and said: "You okay, kid?" When 
Richard turned his head to the ranger, the haze Captain Nicholas had 
caught in his eyes before was gone, just as if Richard had pulled veils 
down closing off his inner state. His answer was normal: "I had a ball. 
Did I do okay?" 

A week later the vacation was over. The entire party left the 
mountains in the late afternoon, climbed down the slopes, and walked 
to the forest ranger's wayside post where they had left their station 
wagon. After an hour's ride, they arrived at the ranch house, where 
Captain Nicholas' wife and daughter, Moira, greeted them. They were 
all tired; and after dinner all went to bed. 

Richard, however, did not sleep very much. From the moment he 
met Moira, he had a renewal of his recent experience on the 

Fresh from that experience and still full of the pact he had made 
with the air and the water and the earth — the ecstasy of it all was 
quite vividly present to him for weeks after — Moira seemed to Richard 
to be a walking, breathing embodiment of a secret figure he carried in 
his memory. She seemed an answer to his prayer uttered on the 
mountainside, and the model he had felt promised him in the shadow 
of that slope. He saw the unconscious gravity of her head, the light 
strength of her figure as the light strength of that figure he had felt 
beside him on the mountainside that memorable night; the gentle 
swaying of her walk as an expression of its freedom. And all the details 
of her appearance and person were a revelation of what he desired to 
have most: the husky tones of her voice together with the natural 
grace of her hand movements, the sense of privileged look her eyes 


carried, at least for him, and the soft bed of feeling that he knew 
cushioned her laughter and made it utterly different from the loud 
laughter of his companions. 

Some of the other boys had noticed his fascinated look on the 
evening of their arrival at the ranch, and he became the immediate 
butt of their banter. "Richard wants to make her! Richard has the 
hots! Richard wants to lay her!" He took it all in good part, even when 
one of them seriously offered to "fix him up" with Moira. 

Moira herself recalls being quite aware of the joke during that 
evening. At first, she had the usual reactions, half-amused, half- 
embarrassed. And she probably would never have been of any help to 
Richard if she had not taken the initiative. It was in the morning 
before their departure. Richard came down early to find Moira 
preparing for breakfast. 

From the beginning Moira quickly sensed that this was not just 
another young man flirting with her. Nor did he act shyly. Beyond a 
cheerful "Hi, good-mornin'," he said little in the beginning, but started 
automatically to help her in the breakfast preparations. But she had a 
strange conviction that she and he had an unconscious agreement or 
bond. The feeling was disturbing at first; then it became a surprising 

As they worked she asked if he had any sisters. 

"Three." His expression was blank, neither pleasured nor disdainful. 

They busied themselves setting the table. He glanced at her once or 
twice. Then: "The trip was fantastic. Ever been out there?" She shook 
her head, waiting for the usual litany of events, feats of male 
endurance and strength. But Richard continued: "I found what I want 
to be out there." 

She asked if he wanted to be a forest ranger. "No! No!" Richard 
answered. He had found out, he explained, what sort of person he 
wanted to be. He looked up at her, his eyes shining. Moira braced 
herself for some protestation of eternal love and irresistible attraction. 
But Richard, eyes still shining, said only: "On the level, Moira, I want 
to be like you." 

Moira's first impulse was to burst out laughing, make a wisecrack, 
and carry on. But something stirred within her cautioning her. She 
turned away quickly to the stove, disturbed, a little frightened. He 
worked on, talking all the while. 

He said he knew he sounded funny, but he meant what he was 
saying; it was hard to explain, but he wanted to tell her. She tried to 


interrupt, but his voice cut across hers hard, almost in reproach. She 
looked around at him. His eyes were filled with tears. He still had the 
shining look, but a strange expression of an apologetic grimace 
touched his mouth fleetingly. "Sorry. Didn't mean to shout." 

"You weren't shouting. I just opened my big mouth." She followed 
his glance out the wide floor-to-ceiling windows of the kitchen. The 
mountains covered with forests crouched out there, their distance 
foreshortened in the morning haze; they looked as if the boy and girl 
in the kitchen could touch them with outstretched hands. 

"Whatever it was, Richard, it was very beautiful," she said to break 
the tension of the silence. "I hope you get what you want. It A ust be 
very beautiful." 

"You know, then. You know." He was excited and boyish, still 
looking out. "I will get it. For sure, now." 

iMoira had no clear idea of what he was thinking. Since her early 
teenage she had been used to boys of various types for which she had 
her own names — the "brawns (athletes, outdoor types), the "softies" 
(nice but weak), the "teddy bears" (effeminate), the "profs" (studious, 
serious). They all talked about themselves and nearly always in terms 
of achievement in school, in business, in sport, or with other girls. She 
was sure now that Richard fitted into none of her categories. The 
caution about him she had felt earlier in the conversation had given 
away now to a sensation of fragility in him matching her own. She felt 
that he knew — even if he did not possess the instinct for — that 
detailed intimacy so characteristically feminine and the real bond 
between all women as compared to and distinct from men. 

Richard talked on happily while they finished the breakfast 
preparations. He spoke of feelings and tastes, of touching trees, leaves, 
grass, flowers, of the smell in the air, of the wind, of the silence, and of 
his desire to be as "inside" himself as she was and as independent as 
his father was. It was a staccato speech, punctuated with pauses, over 
forks and spoons and glasses, running on pleasantly and softly. Just 
before the first pair of legs bounded down the stairs, he paused; and 
she, looking him straight in the eye, said: "Richard, shouldn't you ask 

someone . 


"No one of them will understand. You know that," he answered 
immediately but not abruptly. "Don't worry. I have plenty of advice. 
From the right ones. When they're finished, I'll know how to feel 
things, to be really boy and girl. All in one." 

Moira remembers protesting with all the earnestness she could 


convey and trying to tell Richard that his "plan" sounded like the 
hardest and maddest thing in the world. 

"No!" Once again his tone had changed to a rough note. She caught 
a glint at the back of his eyes which recalled her dim memory of an 
Alsatian baring his teeth and growling at her long ago when she was 
three. Now she was afraid. He told her abrasively: "Only a few can get 
it." He was smiling, but she did not like the smile. "That's the name of 
the game," he remarked some moments later. 

Moira thought that he was going to continue talking. But at that 
moment the kitchen was invaded by seven other young men, loud, 
laughing, joking, looking for breakfast, and loosening the spell of a 
situation that had become uncomfortable and eerie for her. Moira saw 
the veils closing over Richard's eyes. He became once more the easy, 
good-natured, smiling companion she had seen entering the house the 
day before. 

Back home in Detroit a few days later, and into the school year, 
Richard continued to live in the memories of his vacation. Without 
knowing it, he was probing deep into one of the most mysterious 
elements of human personality: gender. In retrospect we can see how 
the peculiarities of his personal makeup were responsible in some 
degree for his later development. They do not, however, explain in any 
way the onset of possession. 

After one more year in high school, Richard went on to college. 
During his first year there, both his older brothers got married. His 
three sisters had already left home and were married. Although he 
spent a lot of time comparing himself to them, Richard never really 
knew them. He never engaged in any deep conversations with his 
sisters, and he did not get any clear feeling for their points of view 
where they differed from his. 

He majored in mathematics, taking English liteiature and French as 
extra credits. He corresponded regularly with Moira in Colorado, and 
with time a deep friendship sprang up between them. Sometimes he 
spent vacations with her and her family; sometimes Moira came to 
Detroit and spent time with Richard's family. Moira was studying 
English literature and journalism at the University of Denver. She 
intended to enter the field of publishing. 

Toward the end of his second year, he had a conversation with his 
father, who was taken aback to find his son spouting what seemed to 
him to be very advanced and unorthodox ideas about sexuality. 
Richard had read all of D. H. Lawrence, Virginia Woolf's Orlando, 


George Sand's Indiana, and a host of other books his father had never 
heard of. He could quote anthropologists and social scientists in 
support of his views about matriarchy and woman's superior power 
and status. 

His father consulted the rabbi of the local synagogue. And, during 
the following Easter vacation, Richard and his father went to see the 
rabbi. The rabbi found Richard quite sensible and his views reason- 
able. He pointed out to Richard and his father that the original 
Hebrew in the Bible does not say God created Eve, the first woman, 
from a rib of Adam. The word used at this place in the Bible means 
"one of two matching panels." He further pointed out that this Bible 
account is essentially androgynous. "So man and woman are equal 
halves of the same entity," concluded the rabbi, "but woman is most 
like God because she has the womb of creation in her." It was all very 
confusing for Richard's father. But Richard found in it a fresh impetus 
for his dreams of femaleness. 

Toward the end of his last year in college, Richard spoke to his 
father about a job in the insurance office. He had no particular desire 
to specialize in any subject. Medicine and law did not interest him. 
What Richard was really looking for was a situation in which he could 
achieve his dream. 

In early June 1961, at the age of twenty-one, Richard took up daily 
work at his father's insurance office. He proved a very willing 
apprentice. He was conscientious, took instructions, worked long 
hours, willingly gave up weekends to work on difficult claims, and 
studied law at night. His father was very proud of his decision and his 
performance. His mother loved having one son still at home. 

In his free time Richard continued reading. He spent long hours 
walking by himself. Since he was out of college and no longer forced to 
take part in group activities, he began to elaborate his ideal. 

He had one constantly recurring dream day and night. Once and for 
all, he fancied, everybody knew he was woman and man all in one. It 
was public knowledge, he dreamed, and accepted joyfully and 
admiringly by everyone. He wore either male or female clothes, 
according to the ebb and flow of his sexuality. His skin was either 
smooth or hard, his voice metallic and masculine or husky and deep, 
his hair long or short, his mind logical and rationalizing or intuitive and 
feeling, his breasts round and full with marked nipples or flat and 
formless, his genitals male or female. But he was chiefly female 
and feminine — with a very marked peculiarity. 


In his dream he had, as a man, attracted a beautiful woman who 
possessed his own female face and body. She was he in female form. 
When they made love together, he was not merely a male entering a 
female. He was a female taking a male into her secret mystery. He not 
only had the male sense of arrival and expansion. He had the female 
sense of falling through the velvet veils of that mystery where wreaths 
of creation and shaping forms of arcane worlds wove around him with 
soft murmurs of love. 

Sometimes in his dreams, all this took place at home in Detroit, 
sometimes at the lakeside in the Colorado mountains, sometimes in 
exotic lands. But most often the entire scene was played out in a small 
house surrounded by trees and standing on the edge of water. 
Wherever he traveled for the company, Richard began to keep his 
eyes open: perhaps, he would find a house similar to the one in his 

His relationship with Moira now became something more than close 
friendship. Moira, in Richard's eyes, was still the woman of his 
Colorado experience and he felt she could be part of his continuing 
dream of perfect man-woman love. And Moira was in love with 
Richard. It seemed perfect — on the outside. Gradually it became a 
mutual assumption that they were engaged and that they would 
eventually get married. In Moira's mind this would take place when 
Richard got a promotion in his company. In Richard's mind it could 
only take place when he found his dream house. 

In mid- 1963, Richard's company sent him to Tanglewood in eastern 
Illinois as a temporary substitute for a sick member of the local office. 
In Tanglewood, Richard found several advantages. His new boss liked 
him very much. It was a far cry from the urban ills of midtown 
Detroit. His new post was in effect a promotion. The Tanglewood 
office was just beginning to expand, and Richard could be in on the 
ground floor of the company's ambitious programs. 

Chiefly, however, Richard found what he knew was the nearest 
approach to the house of his dreams. It was called Lake House: 
single-storied, standing on three acres of land, with sliding glass panels 
in the back giving on to a large pond. The original owners, back in the 
late nineteenth century, had covered the three acres with trees, 
chestnut, sycamore, pine, elm, birch, oak. On his first visit to inspect it, 
Richard heard the wind in the trees by the water's edge. He knew this 
was his house. And it was for lease. 

By that autumn, he had moved into Lake House. With the 


recommendation of his new boss, he obtained a permanent transfer to 
Tanglewood. Then he wrote triumphantly to Moira asking her to 
marry him. She answered immediatel) by telegram. 

They were married in Tanglewood on June 21, 1964. They decided 
not to go away for their honeymoon, but to spend it at home in Lake 
House. By their own choice, also, they arrived there alone in the 
evening of that day. All seemed perfect. The weather had a gentle 
balm to it all day; the sun was warm, but a light wind sang in the trees 
keeping everything cool and clean. "Our house is clean, not pots-and- 
pans clean," said Moira misquoting F. Scott Fitzgerald, "but wind- 
swept clean!" 

In all the years of their friendship and engagement, they had never 
gone beyond a very occasional kiss of passion. Again, as with many 
other aspects of their relationship, each had assumed that the other 
wished it that way. Their first evening and night together as married 
people was something Richard had lived again and again in his dreams. 
It proved a total disaster, however, and not because they both were 
virgins, but on account of Richard's strange behavior and Moira's 

They had taken hours in going to bed, strolling down by the water 
and through the trees, chatting on the porch, and gazing quietly at the 
night all around them. 

Eventually they were side by side. Moira's mind and body, by that 
time, were totally attuned to Richard's movements, the warmth of his 
body, the smell of it, the urgency he felt. She glanced at his face, her 
eyes full of invitation. Richard was lying on his back, his face turned 
toward the open glass panels. He seemed to be listening to the night 
sounds outside around the pond — -the wind in the trees, the ruffling of 
the water, the owls hooting. 

Then he turned his head toward her: "Now, darling," he said, 
strangely quiet, "now Lake House is full of them. I am all of me 

Moira did not understand. She didn't care. He was already kissing 
and caressing her, entering her. And, eyes closed, her hands all over 
him, she started for the first time to feel the urging climb of ecstasy in 

Then she heard his voice — this time with a note of stridency — 
saying: "Open your eyes! Look at me!" 

The sight of his face froze every muscle in Moira's body. It was like 
a flat, featureless surface without a line. There was no expression on it. 


His mouth was closed. His eyes were open, but, unblinking and still, 
they were mere sightless hollows glazed over with a dead patina. 

''You're not seeing me, Richard," she said weakly. 

But his body had become enormously heavy; she could breathe only 
with difficulty. She felt a sudden shooting contraction in her belly and 
groin. A sweat of pain broke out all over her body like a thin film. 
"Richard!" she tried to call out. 

Richard was not with her. From the moment he turned back from 
the window, he had seen no one but his female self. When he entered 
Moira, a storm was on him over which he had no control. It was 
carrying him, petrified by increasing longing and intensifying loathing 
at one and the same time, at a speed which ruled out any resistance on 
his part. Longing and loathing were becoming so intertwined that the 
more repulsion he felt, the more readily he gave in to longing. But this 
only brought on increased loathing, so that longing and loathing 
became one. And both were coming from inside himself. He was their 
source. The higher he went on that first level of ecstasy, the lower he 
went on that second level of disgust. 

All Richard could see was that beautiful face of his female self flung 
back in an effort to match his passion. At the same time he began to 
feel her hands on him as claws scraping his back and buttocks, first 
lightly, then with increasing pressure and tearing his skin. When she 
opened her eyes, their deep blue was swimming with feeling. Then 
they narrowed and glinted with a beige glow that reminded him of 
pigs' eyes, but his fascination with all this only swelled. 

"You're not seeing me, Richard!" he heard his female self saying. 
"Look at me! Look at me!" 

He groped with his body for her inner mystery, trying to explore 
every curve and cranny of her vagina. And, as he did, he felt in himself 
the rocking motion of something hard and angular. He heard the 
voice: "Let me take you, secret and all, mystery and all, Richard" — he 
could not know if it was his own voice or another's — "I'm your fucker 
. . . your fucker. Let me!" The voice died away again to a heavy, 
labored breathing that rose and fell with increasing gusts. It seemed to 
be acquiring a voiced character, a sound produced in a spittle-filled 
throat, wheezing, grunting, blowing, inhaling. 

Now his longing and loathing were reaching a climax. There was no 
ejaculation. Rather he swelled and grew bigger and swelled with 
desire until he felt his middle opening up; and, with a loathing that 
held him hypnotized, he knew that an alien body was pouring fluid 


through him, hot, sticky, scorching. Loving and disgust became one. 
He started to thrash and flail. 

By this time, Moira was screaming with fear as his terrible weight 
pressed down on her. She began to choke on the scream. Suddenly, he 
was off her. Her voice trailed away. 

Richard was over by the far wall, a letter opener in his hand. He was 
standing with his back to her, tearing and gouging at the wall with 
wide sweeps of his hand, scraping paper and plaster on to the floor, 
while he hammered the wall with a clenched fist. A muffled groan 
rising and falling was all she heard from him. 

His back, buttocks, and legs were a field of criss-crossing welts, 
scrapes, and lesions oozing with little pinpoints of blood at various 

By now, Moira was afraid for her life. Without hesitation, she was 
out of bed and running through the door. She grabbed her coat and 
the car keys, flung the hall door open, and made for the car. " Moira!" 
she heard him shout brokenly. ''Come back! Moira, don't go. Help me! 
Come back!" But by then she was halfway down the drive. She found 
her parents asleep in their hotel room. She never returned to Lake 
House or to Richard. Two years later she obtained a divorce from him. 

Richard's dream was shattered. But there was something else in its 
place. He knew now that he had something new in him, something 
alive, something alien to him, but now his familiar and cohabitant. 

He spent the two weeks of what would have been his honeymoon 
inside Lake House, rarely eating, refusing all callers, never answering 
the telephone. Gradually he returned to normal life. He was back at 
work in the office on the appointed day. 

Outside office hours and activity, unless he was traveling, Richard 
stayed at Lake House. He never received visitors. Even when his 
family came to see him, they stayed in one of Tanglewood's hotels. 
Lake House was his refuge and his castle. On weekends he lay in bed 
in the morning waiting for sunrise. Regularly, as the first streaks of 
gray light appeared, the birds started to sing in the trees. First one 
here and there, then another one or two, then two or three together, 
until the house and garden were filled with the dawn chorus of 
thrushes, finches, robins, wrens, starlings. 

At night and at any time possible he listened to the wind singing in 
the trees. It still brought tears to his eyes. And always he strained to 
remember the voice behind the wind and to capture its message and 


the identity of the messenger. His outlook was still filled with the 
mystery and power of femaleness. And, he was sure, the wind spoke of 
this and the birds sang of it. 

Richard was now in the second stage of his development. His old 
idea of an androgynous self had melted. On his trips for the company 
business, he spent time regularly with prostitutes, and occasionally had 
relations with female clients and office personnel. He repelled any 
homosexual advances. 

He admitted to himself after a while that in all these sexual 
encounters it was not a genuinely male sexual desire that impelled 
him. It was rather a jealous curiosity about the female and the 
feminine. He was always watching on the sidelines. No woman ever 
came back to him a second time. And more than one prostitute 
remarked as she left him: "You're freaky." 

He once invited a woman to Lake House because he wished to have 
relations with her while listening to the wind. Everything went well 
for a while, but something frightened her, and she fled from him as 
precipitately as Moira had. 

It was frustrating for him. He could only speculate about the female 
ecstasy and experience. He noticed that some women, in having 
intercourse, moaned in a dying fashion, turning their heads as if to 
avoid blows or to catch a mouthful of air. And he wondered what sort 
of lovely death that could be under the knife of female pleasure and 
secret power, and what sort of enshrined mystery a woman possessed 
that enabled her to live and die all over again the next time. For that 
was how he thought of it. 

But, in the meantime, his own identity — sexual and otherwise — 
underwent an eclipse. For three years he never listened to or looked at 
another human being. He merely heard and saw them. He lost, 
therefore, any grasp on his own identity. He had no clear perception of 
who he was, what he was about, where he was going, where he came 
from. The pattern of his identity was in disarray: an essential piece had 
been withdrawn invisibly but with shocking results. All the earlier 
personal lines, geometrically clear and personally pleasing, had melted 
into a criss-crossed haze. The fine tones and delicate shades of taste 
and distaste, like and dislike, attraction and repulsion lost stability and 
definition. All were now clouds and swirls of the unknown and the 
unpredictable. The various gears of his inner mechanism in mind, will, 
memory, brain, heart, gut feelings were working at cross-purposes. 

He stood helplessly hip deep in the running streams of impulses 


where before a sharp instinct or a brilliant perception had teamed 
with a never-failing voice in his heart. The self he originally proposed 
to free and ennoble had become indeterminate; it was colored by any 
element injected into him. He was a cracked bell jangling to the blow 
of any hammer. He was a bag of emptiness blowing and puffing on 
insubstantial air. Living now in an inner uncertainty of selfhood that 
nothing could dispel, he had become the reality of his former 
nightmare: a nonperson for himself. What he had cherished as a dream 
of happiness had become in reality an empty void. 

And this was not all. He found out on one particular occasion that 
already within him there were impulses he could no longer govern, 
and that these impulses seemed to arise from his original ambition to 
enjoy both masculine and feminine qualities. On that occasion he 
recognized the big change in himself. It was around the middle of 
December 1968. He was on the road for his company. The weather 
was very bad: snow, sleet, strong winds, gale warnings. On his last 
evening in the city he was visiting, he was walking home from a late 
meeting with a client. It was around midnight. No one was out at that 
hour in such wintry weather. Richard walked because the wind, his 
wind, was blowing with a high-pitched sound — almost a warning, but 
still enticing. 

The way to his hotel led him past rows of detached houses. About 
half a mile from the hotel, he heard a moaning sound from some 
bushes and trees that stood in a deserted area between two houses. He 
stopped and looked around. There was no one in sight. Most of the 
nearby houses were dark, their owners probably asleep or absent. 
Richard followed the direction of the moaning. Behind the bushes he 
came across a spread-eagled form. It was a young black girl. She had 
been raped and stabbed. She was practically naked; her clothes had 
been torn off her. Between her legs and at her shoulder blood stained 
the snow in small, dark patches. 

Richard was fascinated. He watched her for a while. Then he lifted 
his head and listened to the wind, feeling its fingers brushing and 
striking his face. He crept forward, keeping his head down against the 
wind, then stopped and watched her more closely, The girl was still 
moaning; her head twitched now and then. 

Richard remembers very little else. He recalls tearing off his own 
clothes feverishly (he was afraid she might die before he finished what 
he wished to do). He talks almost tearfully now of feeling an 
irresistible desire to have relations with her then and there. He recalls 


the wind whistling music in his ears and then, marvelously, changing 
that music to words. He remembers catching the last glance of the girl 
who stared at him for one instant before her eyes went completely 
dead. He felt her body shudder. 

Then apparently he stood up in a frenzy of triumph — he had 
achieved the ultimate watch on woman, he felt. He was seized by a 
great giddiness as the wind whipped around him. And now, for the 
first time, he sensed clearly that all his thinking and willing and feeling 
and imagining led like so many strings back to some central point in 
him where they lay in the hand of another, who controlled them and 
him. He felt the security of being controlled and the promise of 
success: "You shall be as woman!' 

Afterward, when he reflected coolly on the incident, he realized 
that even in her death throes that woman had shown him the power of 
the feminine; his sexual relations with her had been a revelation for 
him. He knew that a decision had been made for him. He did not, as 
yet, guess from where that decision had come. But he did know what 
he had to do. 

In the new year Richard went to New York. In previous years he 
had read extensively about transsexuals and the new transsexualizing 
operation. He now put himself under the care and supervision of a 
doctor who assured him that within 16 to 20 months, if all went well 
with the tests and preparations, he could have the operation, remove 
all trace of his male inadequacy — this was how Richard looked at his 
genitals — and acquire the organs of a woman. In late 1970, after 
passing successfully through the psychiatric examinations, and the 
necessary changes in the chemistry of his body having been produced 
by repeated treatments, Richard underwent surgery and emerged 
successfully from his convalescence in a new state of almost delirious 
happiness. He returned to Lake House. His mother and father came to 
see him, as did his brothers and sisters. They had become reconciled to 
his new status as well as to his newly adopted name of Rita. His boss at 
the insurance office was persuaded by his father that R ichard could do 
the same work even better than before. So two months later, Richard 
was back to a normal life of daily work. As Rita. 

The tempo of Richard /Rita's inner existence now changed. He 
found his outlook running in two main streams. One was the expected 
femaleness resulting from the operation. He found greater delight in 
little details — of cloth, of a story, of colors, of people's voices, in 
architecture. No longer did he look for large, sweeping lines in the 


world around him, nor did he feel inclined to argue logically or to 
engage in verbal polemics. He felt himself more vulnerable, more 
susceptible to praise and flattery, on the watch for compliments from 
men. He had a varied sexual life: he did not discriminate between old 
and young, ugly and beautiful. It was enough for him that he was 
desired and that they all found in him something that mystified them 
while holding them. 

The other stream in his outlook was pockmarked with some stinging 
deficiencies that distressed him continually. When he had intercourse, 
for instance, he felt a great deadness in himself: there was no 
after-feeling of warmth and togetherness and perpetuity. And often 
this lack was accompanied by an inner bitterness that drove him into 
rages. It became an obsession with him "to make love and feel life" in 
himself after he had done so, and to hear his partner express himself in 
similar terms. But nothing he did ever produced a ray of hope in this 
direction, until he met Paul. 

Paul, a Chicagoan, a former minister who had turned to banking 
and brokerage and become a millionaire in the process, was a very 
impressive character. Tall, good-looking, with salt-and-pepper hair, 
suave, well dressed, educated, a very good conversationalist, Paul had 
a brilliant smile. He and Richard/Rita liked each other from the first 
moment they met at a cocktail party. Richard eventually told Paul his 
life history. He was surprised by Paul's matter-of-fact reaction. What 
amazed Richard /Rita more than that was Paul's understanding of his 
difficulty in having intercourse and in its aftermath. 

"I think something can be done about all that, Rita," he said. "But 
you will have to consummate a carefully arranged marriage." 

"Marriage? But marriage is impossible — at least very difficult," 
answered Richard. 

"Not the marriage I have in mind. You just need the right partner 
under the right circumstances. You don't realize it, but you have been 
preparing for quite a while for this marriage. Leave it all to me." 

Richard /Rita did not understand what Paul meant, until he 
participated in the Black Mass on June 21, 1971. 

The invitation he received from Paul was ostensibly for a midnight 
party. It was a sultry night without a patch of wind. When 
Richard /Rita arrived around 10: 00 p.m., he was struck by the lavish 
surroundings. The house, dating from the previous century, stood in its 
own grounds. About 80 guests were drinking and eating a cold buffet 
around an open-air pool illuminated by tall, thick candles. Another 40 


guests were dancing inside in the ballroom. The air was full of 
chattering, laughter, music, and celebrations. Paul immediately intro- 
duced Richard /Rita to a table at which two young women and their 
escorts sat. Merriment pervaded the group. Everybody was excited 
and happy. 

From his position, Richard/Rita could see both ends of the pool. At 
each end there was a long table covered with food, drinks, ice buckets, 
and flowers. Behind each table, a long, wall-high, embroidered red 
curtain hung from a pole. A butler in black evening clothes stood 
motionless by each curtain. 

Richard /Rita felt surprisingly at home. He joined in the laughter 
and talk around the table, and cheered as some of the more mellowed 
guests shoved each other fully clothed into the water. 

At 12:45 PM -> Richard/Rita suddenly noticed a hush. Nobody was 
speaking any longer. The stereo music had gone silent. Without his 
realizing it, about three-quarters of the guests had departed. The two 
couples who had been at his table had excused themselves shortly 
before, saying that they wanted to dance. 

The guests who remained had fallen silent. They stood in two 
groups at either end of the pool, facing each other across the water. 
Then, Richard /Rita noticed his tall host signaling to the two butlers. 
With a solemn movement, they pulled aside the curtains. 

When the curtains parted, Richard /Rita could see a low altar table 
at either end of the pool. Above each altar there hung an ornament in 
the shape of an inverted triangle. At its center there was an inverted 
crucifix, the head of the crucified resting on the angle of the apex of 
the triangle. From the interior of the house he now heard the low peals 
of an organ. And someone was burning incense there, so that the 
fumes drifted out lazily and lay across the air like slowly twisting blue 
serpents. Then the guests started to undress in an unconcerned 
fashion, each one dropping his or her clothes where they stood. 

As if on signal, both groups turned and started to come around the 
sides of the pool toward Richard /Rita. He started to get up when 
Paul's hand fell on his shoulder gently but firmly: "Wait, Rita." The 
naked guests filed around him and stood stock-still. Nobody had yet 
spoken a word. Then Paul took Richard /Rita's arm so that he stood 
up. Twenty pairs of arms stretched out from all sides; and unhurriedly, 
calmly, they undressed Richard/Rita. His host, Paul, was nowhere to 
be seen at that moment. 

Then one guest, a young blond man in his late twenties, came 


forward. Around his neck he wore a narrow black stole. There was a 
ruby ring on the index finger of his left hand. 

"Rita," he said evenly to Richard/Rita, '1 am Father Samson, 
willing minister of our Lord Satan. Come! Let us adore." 

His voice, the hands and fingers of the guests, the low organ music, 
the sultry night, the light feeling in his body, the languid odor of the 
incense, all this fell into a pattern of softness which Richard /Rita felt 
all around him. He turned as gravely as the others and walked in 
procession around the pool, past the tall candlesticks, until they 
reached one of the altars. 

Now he had no further difficulty in understanding what they 
required of him. He waited passively and quietly. 

They easily lifted Richard/ Rita and placed him on his back flat on 
the altar. Father Samson then appeared carrying a chalice. Someone 
placed a small folded cloth on Richard/ Rita's pubic hair. Samson stood 
the chalice on the cloth. Then Richard/ Rita heard three voices 
chanting the opening words of the old Latin Mass: "In nomine Patris 
et Filii et Spiritus Sancti," to which they added the extra name: "et 
domini nostri Satanas." Richard/Rita now understood. He felt a 
strange exultation. 

Father Samson had begun reading from a black-bound book held by 
another naked guest, a woman of about thirty-five. He gestured 
gravely as he proceeded. The others had grouped themselves around 
in two concentric circles: the inner circle, all males, had placed, each 
one, the left hand on some part of Richard/ Rita's body. Those in the 
outer circle, all females, had placed their hands on the hips of the 

Just before the consecration, a woman pricked a vein in Richard/ 
Rita's arm, letting some drops of his blood fall and mix with the wine 
in the chalice. Once Father Samson had uttered the words of the 
consecration ("This is my body . . ."), the guests paired off, lay down 
on the floor, each man lying between the legs of a woman. Father 
Samson parted Richard/ Rita's legs, mounted the altar, entered 
Richard /Rita fully, took the chalice, sipped it, held it to Richard/ 
Rita's lips so that he could sip it, and handed it to the nearest pair. 
While this pair was sipping the chalice, Father Samson started 
rhythmically to push and pull in Richard /Rita, saying as a refrain: 
"Say- tan! . . . Say-tan! . . . Say-tan!," lengthening the first syllable as 
he drew partially out of Richard /Rita and hitting the second syllable 
with hard emphasis as he drove into Richard /Rita. As each pair 


handed on the chalice, they started to copulate following the rhythm 
of Father Samson, until all — men, women, and Father Samson — were 
chanting and copulating in unison. Richard /Rita was the only silent 

He lay, eyes closed, while Father Samson chanted on him. For the 
first time Richard /Rita felt a strange tingling starting at his buttocks, 
up through his spine, up the nape of his neck, around his skull, down 
into his shoulderblades, past his middle and abdomen, in around his 
vagina and down through his groin and calves, to the tips of his toes. 
For all the world it felt as if an electrifying fluid was being poured into 
him from Samson. Richard /Rita opened his eyes to look at Samson, 
but the light was too dim, and the blue trails of the incense were 
weaving through his vision. 

Richard/ Rita could hear heavy breathing, but he could see no face, 
only the outline of a head. He murmured: "Father Samson . . . Lord 
Satan . . . Father Samson . . . Lord" — but he was interrupted by a 
harsh, grating sound of single words coming to him through the heavy 
breathing. "Girl-Fixer! . . . Girl-Fixer! . . . Girl-Fixer!'' Richard/ 
Rita no longer heard the chant of "Say-tan!" Now all seemed to be 
joining in "Girl-Fixer! . . . Girl-Fixer! . . . Girl-Fixer!" Father 
Samson's index finger was now deep in Richard/ Rita's rectum, 
massaging, scooping, probing, pulling, pushing. Richard/Rita felt his 
own semen being loosened and flowing; and, inside him, he had a 
sharp sensation of very hot, sticky oil squirting around the wall of his 
vagina as he heaved and shook. "Have me! Girl-Fixer! . . . Father 
Satan . . . have me . . . smell me . . . fuck me . . . through . . . 
through ..." Richard/Rita's voice rose steeply into a loud scream. 
The organ notes thundered, filling the air. As each pair of the guests 
reached orgasm, they screamed and groaned in a jumble of half-words: 
"Sayt . . . fuck . . . take . . . Sayt . . . have . . . smell . . . cunt . . . 
prick ..." 

The scene subsided slowly. As the waves of pain, pleasure, and 
exultation ebbed in Richard /Rita, he knew that he now had a 
shadow — or, at least, that is how he described it. It was not glued to 
his body, nor did it fall on the ground beside him wherever he went. It 
was like a twin spirit or soul of his own soul or spirit. And it possessed 
his own thoughts, memories, imaginations, desires, words. 

Richard/Rita again opened his eyes. Father Samson was gone. Paul, 
his host, unsmiling, grave, helped him off the altar and motioned him 
to stand, legs well apart. One by one each of the guests came forward 


on their knees. Bending the head and pronouncing the long word 
"Say-tan!," they clamped their lips over his vagina and sucked. Then 
they backed away out of the pool area. 

When the last guest was gone, Paul handed Richard /Rita his 
clothes, helped him to dress, led him around the house to the front, 
where a limousine waited with its engine ticking. The chauffeur 
opened the door for Richard /Rita. "You belong now, Rita. Serve him 
well" was Paul's parting phrase. 

As he lay in bed later, Richard /Rita could sense his shadow near 
him and with him. He felt secure. When sleep came, it was dreamless 
and deep. 

The aftermath was terrible. He now found that all his sexual 
activity — whether in fantasy or in fact — had become of the same 
texture as that repulsive level on which he had moved the night of his 
wedding to Moira. And it reduced all pleasantness, pleasure, beauty, 
joy, ecstasy, to sexual terms which today he characterizes as "animal- 
ity." It made him feel and think and live like an animal in heat, an 
animal which by a freak accident had been provided with a 
self-conscious mind and memory, but which would shortly lose those 
faculties and revert to being just animal. 

Richard/ Rita is the only ex-possessed person I have known who still 
has a clear memory of what precise differences the culmination of 
possession made to his inner self — mind, memory, will, emotions, 

The entry point of continued possession, its bastion, was his 
imagination. In listening to him, one has to remember Richard's 
specific problem: gender and sexuality were one and the same for him. 
Once possession was completed, it seemed to him that he had an 
invisible but tangibly felt shadow, a twin of himself but yet distinct 
from him, and that from that point onward self-control and direction 
in him were exercised by that twin. 

He points to the fluid or electrifying effect he received from Father 
Samson at the Black Mass. For it now appeared to Richard/Rita that 
in his conscious hours all his thoughts and willing and remembering 
and sensations (and, therefore, all he said and did in the view or 
hearing of others) came in a very different way. Now continuously his 
imagination — rather than his memory or his senses or his reasoning 
mind — received "imprints" or "messages": images, pictures, diagrams. 
There was also some other force or influence he could not accurately 


name. But because it specifically, directly, and exclusively concerned 
his sexuality, he calls it the S-factor. 

Once his imagination received one of those "messages" or "im- 
prints," then the whole internal mechanism of thinking, willing, 
remembering, and feeling with his five senses came into play. The 
control thus exercised on him was absolute. If he smelt an odor, if he 
desired something, if he remembered anything, if he thought or 
reasoned, it was all made possible by a prior "imprint." And 
consequently any words he spoke or actions he performed were made 
possible only by that source. 

The exercise of his sexuality — his desire and its consummation — was 
under the strictest control. The desire came without warning: it did 
not arise due to any exterior stimulus. 

To cap it all, there were other moments: hours of high possession 
when the control exercised over him acquired an intensity which 
blotted all else out. In "normal" time of possession, he was still 
self-aware, i.e., he saw and felt himself under the inescapable influence 
of those "imprints," but it was he himself who thought, remembered, 
imagined, spoke, walked, acted. At the "high moments" of possession, 
it seemed to him that he no longer did any of those things. The very 
insides of his soul or spirit seemed to be drenched in another's being. 

He himself felt reduced to a tiny pinpoint of identity, to be 
imprisoned in the most solitary of solitudes, while every fiber and 
sinew of his life was permeated with an alien tyranny, a brute 

And, as he is able to relate it now, only in that microscopic 
reduction of himself did he spontaneously revolt. There he had no 
memory of the past — only a memory that there had been a memory. 
Nor had he any anticipation of the future — only a consciousness that 
anticipation was impossible. Neither praying nor cursing, neither 
praise nor blasphemy was possible there. It was an undivided and 
infinitely sad present, an awareness of oneself surrounded by utter 
blackness and nothingness. The very self of Richard/Rita always 
refused (although it could do nothing about expelling) that constant 

Richard /Rita is emphatic on one point: the strict separation and 
distinction between the detectable and measurable area of his 
thoughts, emotions, memories, external actions, sensations, etc., on the 
one hand; and, on the other, the self he never ceased to be. All through 


his enigmatic experiences, that detectable and measurable area varied 
and changed under the influx of differing intensities, as masculine and 
feminine, male and female traits ebbed and flowed in him. Psycholo- 
gists would, justifiably in their terms, describe it as rather extensive 
changes of personality. But the self — whether reduced to the pinpoint 
of possessed slavery or free within the general control of the central 
point in his imagination — that self never ceased to be the same. 

Asked about the suffering specific to possession, Richard /Rita says 
that the genuine pain of possession does not come from any physical 
distortion, deterioration, or ravages — these most of the time provide 
the possessed with a savagely twisted pleasure and thrill. But it lies 
instead in what he calls the "mirror of existence" of the possessed. 

The unpossessed, the normal person, is aware of the self he is only 
when it is reflected in another person or in things other than himself. 
And, without ever realizing it, when we perceive ourselves reflected in 
someone else or in objects other than ourselves, we instinctively 
compare that reflection of the self with an ideal measure we have 
formed but which we usually leave unspoken, even unthought. It is, 
however, ever present to us when we make comparisons of ourselves. 
This is the third, the hidden third, necessary for all comparison 
between two things. To be self-aware is to be able to compare our 
selves with the reflection and with the ideal measure. 

The possessed has no such awareness. For in the state of possession, 
the self-consciousness and self-awareness of the possessed becomes 
absolute solitude. There is no hidden third, no ideal. Metaphorically 
speaking, in possession a mirror is held up in which the self of the 
possessed sees only itself in itself in itself in itself and so on in an 
infinitely receding number of self-containing, self-mirroring images, 
with no end in sight. And this awareness is, by definition, complete 
and unending solitude. 

For those near Richard/ Rita — his office colleagues, his immediate 
family, the few friends he had made in the immediate neighborhood of 
Tanglewood, there was a marked change in him dating from June 1971 
onward. Their memories of this change are unanimous and date from 
about the time of the Black Mass — of which they knew nothing, of 

Richard /Rita now always wore male clothing; but ordinary people, 
who did not know his story, could not make out exactly whether it was 
a man or a woman they were meeting in Richard. Then there was the 
smell, not unpleasant, just pervasive. It has been described by some as 


"musky," by others as "faded perfume" such as you get when you 
open an old chest of drawers, by others still as "a clean animal smell." 
It pervaded Lake House, his room at the insurance offices, his car, his 
clothes, even his handwritten letters. People always found it distinc- 
tive; some found it repulsive. It varied in strength. 

Finally there were his peculiar fits. His normally deep-blue eyes 
would take on a greenish hue. Some hidden glow or luminescence 
emphasized the down of his face, neck, arms, hands, and legs, so that 
he looked sort of furry; but when you looked closely, you saw only 
skin. He spoke very little, mainly single words and at an extremely 
slow pace, accompanied by a combination of chuckles, grunts, snorts, 
twisting of his eyebrows, and mouth grimaces that contorted his lips 
around his teeth. Yet it was the indescribably roughened tone or 
timbre of his voice that disturbed people the most during his fits. 

At first sporadic through the summer of 1971, these fits increased in 
frequency, so that by late October they were of daily occurrence. 
There was then a peculiar fear-causing element in any conversation 
with Richard/ Rita — and his job was 80 percent of a talking nature. 
When anyone spoke to him, their words seemed to fall into a deep, 
deep hole and to be lost. They felt he hadn't heard or that, if he had, 
there was no communication between them. Then, as they were giving 
up or trying again by repeating what they had said, he spoke either in 
single words or in a series of disconnected words. They made sense 
and, most of the time, gave an answer. But they seemed to come from 
far in the distance, from the bottomless depth of that hole into which 
their words had fallen. Impersonal, uncommunicative of any personal- 
ity, unwarm, at that stage Richard/ Rita reminded some people of the 
humanly unresponsive effect a tape recording gave them. 

People quickly learned that his responses and conversation always 
made sense. Indeed, they were highly intelligent and relevant. His 
business judgment was better than ever before. But always the 
freakish atmosphere communicated by the tone of his voice disturbed 
them. This, together with an almost overnight suspicion in his 
colleagues that "wherever Richard /Rita is, there is always trouble," 
finally brought his dismissal from work and caused him to lose his 
friends one by one. 

The "trouble" was eerie. At first, it affected mainly his life at the 
insurance office. But gradually it affected anyone who contacted him 
even fleetingly — the delivery boys from the grocer, druggist, and dry 
cleaners, his cleaning woman, the laundry woman, his gardener. Once 


it got to a policeman who gave him a traffic ticket. And eventually it 
affected each member of his family who visited him. The "trouble" 
was strictly reminiscent of what happened at the Tower of Babel in 
the Bible story. Men and women who had known each other for years 
and had worked together intimately for substantial periods of time 
suddenly started to misunderstand each other and to wrangle and 
quarrel. To some onlookers of such "trouble," it seemed as if what one 
person said was heard backwards by another person, i.e., with exactly 
the contrary meaning that the speaker intended. The "trouble" 
affected only those talking and dealing with each other. But once any 
onlooker got between the disputants — entered their "atmosphere," so 
to speak — he or she was also affected by the "trouble"; and there was 
an additional source of babel and confusion and wrangling. 

Incidents of this kind took place always and only where Richard/ 
Rita was present physically. He seemed to be highly amused at the 
whole thing, but he himself never got caught by the "trouble." 

The "trouble" also affected those writing or typing in his presence: 
they wrote or typed the opposite of what they meant, or it turned out 
to be complete nonsense. And all incidents of the "trouble" cumula- 
tively pointed too strongly in Richard/ Rita's direction to be explained 
in complete disconnection from him. 

When there was no fit of any kind and no "trouble," Richard/ Rita's 
accustomed sweetness of character and affability came to the fore. The 
change at those moments was almost shocking. 

It was some time before Richard/ Rita realized why he had lost 
friends, why he found people turning away from him, and why he 
became unpopular in his office. 

In the last days of October he was fired. His brother, Bert, came in 
to see him. Then Bert went and talked with his immediate boss. From 
what Bert learned from him and from others in Tanglewood, joined to 
his own impressions, he concluded that his brother needed psychiatric 
care. But Richard /Rita's behavior then became a hide-and-go-seek 
game. Whenever he visited the psychiatrist, he was absolutely normal; 
and the psychiatrist could find nothing wrong or sick about him, no 
matter what diagnostic means he used. Indeed, the psychiatrist 
concluded that Richard /Rita's dismissal from the office was based on 
the boss's repulsion of Richard/ Rita as a transsexual; and he advised 
Richard/ Rita to sue for damages and reinstatement in his job. 

But matters took another turn when Bert and Jasper came and 
stayed with him for a long weekend. Richard/Rita had several fits. 


And the "trouble" was again very evident. Now, in his calm moments, 
Richard /Rita talked to them frankly and pathetically. He had begun to 
know in a dim and fragmentary way something of the drastic changes 
in him. 

His brothers stayed on at his house, determined to get to the bottom 
of it all. Richard willingly underwent a complete physical checkup. 
The results were negative. Further psychiatric examinations were 
equally fruitless. 

Bert and Jasper together with Richard /Rita decided to ask the local 
Lutheran pastor for some advice. He diagnosed Richard/Rita as a soul 
who had neglected God and prayer. When the pastor's counseling was 
of no avail, they called on the local rabbi. This man, a very saintly 
person, consented to read some prayers in Richard/Rita's presence. 
He also read some texts of the Talmud and explained them to the three 

The following days, there was no change in Richard /Rita's general 
condition. They then decided to call on the local Roman Catholic 
pastor. The three of them walked over to see Father Byrnes, who 
already knew Richard /Rita by name and sight. He listened to them, 
but threw cold water on any expectations of concrete help. It wasn't 
because they were non-Catholics, he explained apologetically, and he 
sounded sincere to them. But he didn't know what to do. Sure, he 
would include Richard /Rita in his prayers. But, they shouldn't forget, 
so had the others. And what good had all that done? It didn't seem 
enough, Father Byrnes concluded. Bert took Father Byrnes aside and 
pleaded with him: his brother was ill in some peculiar way. Doctors 
and psychiatrists had given up on him. Didn't Father Byrnes know 
some Catholic priest who might help? 

"Call me tomorrow, after midday," Father Byrnes answered. He 
had just remembered Father Gerald and his great common sense. 


The morning of the exorcism Richard /Rita rose early, bathed, washed 
his hair, carefully sprayed himself with deodorant, and applied his 
favorite perfume to neck, breasts, wrists, and behind his ears. He put 
on a pair of dark blue slacks, a red turtleneck sweater, and loose 
sandals. His long black hair was brushed and combed in a simple 
manner. He wore no makeup or jewelry. 


When he was dressed, he went out and fed the ducks in the pond, 
walked around for a while, then returned in time to greet Gerald's 
assistants at the door. 

Partly because his two brothers were assistants, it was almost like a 
group of intimate friends gathering for a reunion or for the celebration 
of a very private event. Richard /Rita collaborated laughingly and 
pleasantly, making coffee, arranging the room for the rite of Exorcism, 
and in general was very apologetic and apparently appreciative of the 
"inconvenience being given," as he said repeatedly. For the exorcism, 
Richard/ Rita's bedroom had been chosen by Gerald after some 
discussion, and mainly because it seemed to be the place Richard/ Rita 
wanted most to avoid. 

When all was ready, Richard /Rita sat down with the assistants and 
waited, sometimes chatting, sometimes praying with them, until 
Gerald's car was heard in the driveway. Bert went out, reported to 
Gerald, then came back and told Richard/Rita to sit or lie down on 
the couch. But Richard/Rita insisted on waiting for Gerald. 

Gerald entered the bedroom with Father John. Both wore their 
ceremonial robes. All, including Richard/Rita, knelt down as they 
recited a prayer to the Holy Spirit. Then, with Richard /Rita still 
kneeling, the assistants arranged themselves around Gerald. He 
opened the exorcism with a prayer from the official ritual. 

Richard/ Rita interrupted gently and boyishly. "Father Gerald, 
don't you think we could hurry all this up? What I really need now is a 
blessing and everybody's prayers and good-will wishes." 

He stood up and shot a radiant, embarrassed smile of charm and 
gratitude at each one present. Bert's heart was torn at the sight of his 
baby brother. Most of them felt embarrassed, much as if — it was 
Jasper, Richard /Rita's older brother, who made the remark later — as if 
they had come to arrest someone for murder and found the supposed 
murderer and his victim making love instead. Richard/Rita looked 
very feminine that morning. 

Gerald too was taken aback. His mind raced. Had he made a 
mistake? Either they had made fools of themselves and of Richard/ 
Rita, or they were victims of a deeper deceit than he had anticipated. 
But there was no time for reflection or pause. He had to make a 
decision. The police captain and the teacher were looking at him as if 
to say: "Let's get out of here, Father. Let's leave well enough alone/' 
But Gerald knew he had to make certain. 

"Fine, Rita," he said, surprised at his own acting, but smiling 


nonchalantly. "Let's do just that. Here, John, give me the holy-water 
flask. Jasper! Take my prayer book and put it in my briefcase. Bert, 
please make more coffee. Someone go and telephone the rectory and 
tell them I shall be back for lunch. Rita, hand rne the crucifix from the 
table beside you, and let's get on with the blessing." 

Afterward, when discussing the events of that morning, all agreed 
that the moment Gerald finished his request to Richard /Rita some 
sharp change took place in the room. It was a qualitative change, as 
effective and as abrupt as a complete, instantaneous change in the 
perfume of the air or in the room temperature. Some of them, not 
guessing Gerald's ulterior motive, had started automatically to do what 
he had asked them before he made his request to Richard/ Rita. But 
the mysterious change in the room as Gerald spoke to Richard /Rita 
brought them all up sharply. "Like red lights all around me," said one. 
"Like a warning bell," commented another. "An eerie feeling in the 
nape of my neck," was the teacher's description. 

"We knew that suddenly another presence had become palpable to 
us. We knew it was bad, bad, bad," declared Bert afterwards. 

They all turned around and looked at Gerald and Richard/ Rita. 
Gerald was standing almost on tiptoe, his request had been so barbed 
with intent and its impact on Richard/Rita so tangible for him. 
Richard/ Rita had sat down on the couch, a picture of puzzlement. His 
forehead was a field of furrows. His eyebrows were almost touching in 
quizzical expression. His mouth was tightly closed, the lower lip 
clamped over the upper one. All color had drained from his cheeks. 
They couldn't see his eyes. He was looking at his lap, where both his 
hands closed and opened, from fist to open palm, then from open palm 
to fist, continually, jerkingly, and slowly. Gerald held his own hand up 
for silence and attention. 

"Rita," he said softly, "hand me the crucifix." Tears started to glitter 
on Richard/ Rita's eyelashes and then ran silently down his face. 

"I want to be left alone. Please" — the voice was feminine and husky 
and agonizing. Another burst of tears. He sobbed. "It's all too 
much — I know none of you understand what has happened to me. 
Moira does — ask her. But this is all a charade — I need only to be left 
alone." More sobbing. 

Gerald looked at Bert. Bert shrugged as if to say: Your decision! 
Gerald opened his ritual: "In the name of the Father, and of the Son, 
and of the Holy Spirit, we are here today to pray and ask that in the 
name of Jesus Christ, the Lord of Heaven and Earth, whatever evil 


spirit may have entered and possessed this creature of Almighty God's, 
Rita O., will obey . . ." 

The rest was drowned in Richard/ Rita's sobbing. He had turned 
gently as if wounded or struck, and lay down on the couch, his back to 
Gerald. They all listened to Richard /Rita, not hearing any more the 
words Gerald was reading. They could only hear that sobbing, crying 
voice, wailing and groaning with uncontrollable sorrow, his whole 
body shaking with each sob, every sound of his voice filtering through 
his throat and mouth as a terrible reproach to all present. 

". . . and that whatever ill-effects the evil spirit has caused in 
Rita," Gerald wound up, "may be cleansed and purified by the Grace 
of the Lord, Jesus." Gerald concluded the first prayer. 

At this mention of the name of Jesus, Richard/ Rita stiffened and 
turned flat on his back. His face was not a picture of tears and sorrow 
as they all had expected, but a writhing mass of hate, fear, and disgust. 

"Take your Jesus and his filthy crucifix and his stinking holy water 
and his withered priest and get out of my house." Both his arms were 
stretched out at this point, the palms toward Gerald, warding off his 
stare. "Take 'em out of here. I want to be alone." 

Gerald saw Bert starting to go forward. "Bert!" he said sharply, 
"stay where you are — just one moment." Bert stopped. 

"Bert, save me from this lousy Catholic priest and his hocus-pocus. 
Bert! Bert! Help me!" Bert started forward again. This time, John, the 
younger priest, touched Bert on the arm: "Give Gerald one more 
moment, Bert," he whispered, "just one more moment. We've got to 
be sure." 

"Bert!" continued Richard/Rita sobbingly, "I was supremely happy 
until he started at me. It's all a mistake. I'm a woman, Bert. I'm a 
woman. Like your Marcia [Bert's wife]. Like Moira. Like Mummy. 
Like Julie [Bert's secretary]. See!" — and Richard/Rita tore down the 
zipper of his slacks and opened the top button: "See! I've got pubic 
hair and a cunt just like Marcia. Look, Bert! Come and feel it! It's hot 
and wet. I can hold you, Bert, I can hold you now better than Julie. 
Remember we used to masturbate together in bed as kids? Now you 
can enter me. Help me, Bert. I'll be yours if you do!" 

Bert fell back ashen-faced. Gerald reached forward, took the 
crucifix, held it up in front of Richard/Rita. 

"Rita, all will be well. We will leave you alone. Only now you have 
to do what you did a few days ago in the rectory." When Richard/Rita 
had come with Bert and Jasper to see him, he had laid his right hand 


on a crucifix Gerald always kept on his desk and said: "By this, I 
swear, Father Gerald: I want to be whole and entire and right with 
God." All the time this ability of Richard/Rita to touch the crucifix 
had given great encouragement to Gerald. It meant that the possession 
of Richard/ Rita was an incomplete process as yet. Except in its 
advanced stages, possession varies in its effects and characteristics. 

But now Richard/Rita lay down on the couch, legs spread, hands 
resting on his groin. They waited. His chest rose and fell as if he were 
sleeping. Outside, the weather had turned dark. The wind was rising, 
shaking the trees around the house with an irregular whining sound. 

Then Richard /Rita's mouth opened and after what seemed minutes 
they heard him speak, but with another voice. It was throaty, rasping, 
slow, indistinguishable as to sex — it could have been female or male. It 
was like the voice of some very elderly people — a hint of falsetto, a 
trace of bass, but weary and ponderous, requiring effort. 

"I know you're supposed to be a virgin, Father Gerald. What would 
you know of woman — or of man, for that matter?" 

Gerald decided to break in. "Tell us who you are." 

Richard/Rita was silent a moment; then he spoke as if in a joke. 
"Who I am? Why, Rita, of course. Who else? Stupid!" 

"If you are Rita whom we know, sit up, and take this crucifix." 

"Rita doesn't want to. Nah!" 

"Why then are you sulking, Rita? Why not sit up and talk like an 
ordinary human being with us?" 

"Because . . . because . . . because I am not ordinary. Listen!" 
Richard/ Rita's head turned toward the shuttered windows. His eyes 
fluttered as if looking at a passing scene. His head turned back. "I am 
not ordinary." 

Gerald had his ritual book opened again and was about to start the 
next part of the exorcism when a new thought suddenly occurred to 
him: if he was merely speaking to Richard /Rita, wouldn't he be 
missing the point of the exorcism? And couldn't Richard/Rita, or 
whatever evil spirit possessed him at that moment, carry off a 
magnificent deception — pretend, in fact, to cooperate? No! He had to 
break down the facade, if facade there was. Gerald was groping 
blindly to the truth of Father Conor's analysis without having had the 
benefit of Conor's instruction. Cold experience was his hard teacher 
that day. 

He closed the book slowly, grasped the crucifix between his palms, 
and started to question Richard /Rita. Now the exchange between 


them settled down to a rather calm quest ion-and-answer exchange. 
And it lasted that whole day. At one stage Rita fell silent. After 
fruitless attempts to get answers from him, Gerald went outside, 
washed, took some food, and returned. The day was already advanced. 
The doctor had monitored Richard /Ritas breathing and pulse. All was 
normal. As Gerald returned, they all began to feel the biting cold in 
the room. James attended to the radiator, even went down to the 
boiler in the cellar. The cold still persisted. 

Gerald started again to question Richard/Rita. This time Richard/ 
Rita started to answer. Gerald probed, provoked, queried, objected, 
interrupted, set traps, and tried in every way to break down the 
resistance he felt in Richard/ Rita. Rut whatever he did, Richard/ 
Rita turned it aside with long, rambling answers, descriptions of 
sexual acts, analysis of the male and female, small insults and jeers, an 
occasional snide remark. So it went through the night and the small 
hours of the morning. 

We will never know now, but that procedure might have lasted 
indefinitely until common sense and the limits of endurance indicated 
to all that the exorcism was a failure — or, alternatively, that Richard/ 
Rita had never been possessed, but was just very abnormal in quite an 
ordinary sense of the word. After many hours, however, Gerald began 
to sense that at times he almost touched something, then it would 
escape his grasp. At times, also, the others in the room would have a 
strong sense of something alien, pressing on them. Then it would 
lighten and disappear. All were becoming fidgety. All were tired. 

The end of their waiting came unexpectedly with one blanket 
statement of Gerald's in answer to a protest of Richard/Rita. 

"But any ordinary woman wants to be held and cherished by her 
man," Gerald was saying, "and, after that, to lead him where he could 
not otherwise go. Hand in hand. And in truth. And in love. Not in 
power or in superiority. They walk in God's smile. They reproduce his 
beauty." Gerald was touching the very chord that had obsessed 
Richard/Rita since his operation. 

Richard/Rita stiffened. "Why the hell don't you leave me alone? 
You and your God! Who needs his smile or his beauty?" 

Gerald was alerted by a new note in Richard /Rita's voice. He could 
not recognize it, but he knew it as a new note. And he had an idea. 

"Why? Because I know you are not Rita. I know you are not 
Richard. I know that Rita — Richard — loves God, his smile and his 


beauty. But you — whatever or whoever you are — why don't you come 
out from your lies and your deceptions and face us?" 

All hell — as the police captain said later — broke loose. Richard /Rita 
doubled up, his head resting on his feet, his body pumping spasmodi- 
cally. The assistants held him and tried to straighten him out. They 
could not move him; he was as heavy as pig iron. The couch shook and 
trembled. The wallpaper above the bed peeled off, starting in one 
corner, as if invisible fingers had yanked it violently. The shutters 
shook and rattled. Richard /Rita started to break wind and scream at 
the same time. Everybody there began to feel a peculiar pressure of 
threat and fear. They started to perspire. Nothing had prepared them 
for this feeling of incalculable danger. 

"Let everybody hold! Stay calm!" It was Gerald warning them. He 
was now aware that he had touched the essential core of their 
problem. But he was still in the dark. He drew near the couch and 
bent over Richard/ Rita, who was quite still; but his body was doubled 
up as before, his head resting on his feet. 

"Rita," he said in a clear, loud voice. "I tell you: we will keep on 
struggling for you. So, you, you keep on fighting and resisting." 

Richard/ Rita jerked and shook for a few seconds, then his teeth 
sank into the instep of one foot. 

Gerald straightened up. He changed his tone to a sharp, inquisitor- 
ial, and imperious note: "You, Evil Spirit, you will obey our 

Again, the rasping voice: "You do not know what you're getting 
into, priest. You cannot pay the price. It's not your virginity merely 
that you'll lose. And not merely your life. You'll lose it all — " 

"As Jesus, Our Lord, bore sufferings, so I am willing to bear what it 
costs to expel you and send you back to where you came from." 

This was Gerald's first error. Without realizing it, and in what 
looked like heroism, he had fallen into an old trap. They were now on 
a personal plane: he versus the evil spirit. No exorcist can function in a 
personal way, in his own right, offering his strength or his will alone to 
counter and challenge the possessing spirit. He never should try to 
function in place of Jesus, but merely speak and act in concert with 
him as his representative. 

For Gerald the cost of that mistake was high. He had never dreamed 
that physical punishment could be so intense. It was a full three weeks 
before he could get up and hobble around his room in great pain; that 


violent attack on him would eventually prove lethal for Gerald. But 
these were not his deepest sufferings. In those few seconds of storm 
when he was hurled across the room and slammed against the wall, it 
was a sense of violation that shook and tore him. 

Only then did he realize that, up to that moment, indeed all his life, 
he had enjoyed an immunity. An inner bastion of his very self, the core 
of his person, had never been touched. Sorrow had never reached it. 
Regret had never pained it. Nor had any twinge of weakness or guilt 
ever ached there. 

The strength of that private self had been its immunity. His 
professional celibacy and physical virginity had been merely outward 
expressions of the ultimately carefree condition of spirit in which he 
had always existed. In a sense, sin or wrongdoing had never touched 
him there, not because he had so decided, but because the choice had 
never presented itself. 

But, in a twist of egotism, that immune part of him had been the 
source of his pride as it was of his independence. And friends who 
marveled at his constancy as a priest and ascribed it to a genuine sort 
of holiness could never have known — no more than Gerald himself — 
that Gerald's ultimate strength was tainted with a great weakness: the 
self-reliance of pride. The physical pain and injury that afflicted his 
body during and after the attack was as much a symbol as it was 
tangible expression of an inescapable weakness and fragility to which 
he was heir merely by being human. 

He recovered sufficiently from the attack, but he never again had 
that old sense of immunity. Instead, there was born in him a 
heightened feeling of helplessness. And, for the first time in his life, he 
acknowledged his total dependence on God. And his outlook was now 
permeated with that poignant sense which Christians traditionally had 
described by a much misunderstood word: humility. It was a grateful 
realization that love, not simply a great love, but love itself, had 
chosen him and loved him for no other reason but love. "Only love 
could love me" had been a saying of an ancient English saint, Juliana 
of Norwich. 

In the meanwhile, Gerald had to make a decision: to proceed with 
the exorcism or declare it officially over. Richard/ Rita was now in an 
abnormal stage even for him. He needed round-the-clock surveillance. 
Usually he lay on the couch awake or asleep, or he stood by the 
window apparently looking and listening. He was docile to any 
suggestions of his brothers, but no one else could influence him. He ate 


sparingly, had to be washed like a baby, lapsed periodically into a 
strange, babbling incoherence, and could not bear any mention of 
Gerald, of religion, or of Exorcism. Nor would he allow any religious 
object near him or in his house. He always seemed to know when any 
such object was brought in. His cleaning woman, for instance, used to 
wear a medal around her neck; she had to leave it at home. If his 
brothers had spoken to Gerald, Richard/ Rita would know it when 
they entered his presence. A scene would ensue, never violent, always 
heart-rending and full of pleas to them that they save him from further 

Gerald's health, meanwhile, was precarious and his friends became 
worried. The doctor told him that he had developed a damaged heart, 
and his physical lacerations had been very severe. The doctors had 
patched him up to the best of their ability. 

Besides his physical sufferings, Gerald was the subject of an odd 
change in his sensations. He could not, for very long, see or touch any 
material object without this change taking place. As he told me later: 
"I seemed to be looking through it and around it — not beyond it. For 
in some peculiar sense it was no longer there. Instead, with some sight 
other than that of my eyes, I was held by the perception of a condition 
or dimension or state for which I have no words. It — that condition — 
seemed to be the real world. The material object — table, chair, wall, 
food, whatever it was — seemed utterly unreal, to be nothing in fact. 
And even my own body was for me an imagined shell permeated with 
and held up by that other condition." 

The effect of all this was very disturbing, especially when he met 
others. What they saw was a thin, pale-faced man crooked in his 
stance, leaning on a cane, who seemed to be looking at them with the 
impersonal scrutiny of a stargazer or a map reader. He was still kind, 
affable, even jocular, and always good-humored. In conversation, he 
seemed to be very interested in people, not so much in themselves, as 
in what they signified or where they stood spiritually. This was a novel 
attitude for Gerald. What Gerald himself now found was that every 
man and woman he met underwent the same "conditioning" in his 
eyes as material objects. But, differently from objects, once the 
underlying and invisible condition of a person became clear to him, he 
sensed a new element. 

He found it hard to express in one word or one phrase this new 
element. When he went to great lengths to describe it, he ended 
up — with constant assertions that he was only using images and 


metaphors — talking about ^light/" "blackness," "presence," "ab- 
sence," "a web of yesses." His description of someone might be: "He's 
been saying, 'No, no,' all his life." Or: "She has never really said, 'Yes,' 
to the 'presence.' " Or: "They're in a very black context." Practically 
speaking, he found, this new way of looking at people placed him at a 
distance from everyone, no matter how well he knew them or liked 
them. Any knowledge of them through his mind and any attachment 
to them by his will was only possible in this new dimension. 

The pastor of his rectory went so far as to consult one of the psy- 
chiatrists whom Gerald had originally consulted about Richard/ 
Rita. When Gerald left the hospital and was convalescing at the 
rectory, Dr. Hammond together with a colleague turned up at the 
rectory to see him one afternoon. He had run a complete check on 
Gerald's background, he told Gerald, from his childhood to that 
moment in time. He and his colleagues were convinced that Gerald 
himself had been severely traumatized, and — more seriously — that, 
because Gerald could not really understand sexuality and its complex- 
ities, he had unwittingly evoked an alienated condition in Richard/ 
Rita. In their opinion, and for the sake of their professional integrity 
as well as Gerald's own sake, they would ask Gerald to place himsejf 
voluntarily under their controlled observation at the clinic. Richard/ 
Rita, they thought, would respond to normal therapy. 

For different reasons, the pastor was equally adamant in this point 
of view. Rumors of the exorcism's strange result had filtered to the 
bishop of the diocese. And he sent word to the pastor that he expected 
him to arrange everything so that there would be no more trouble and 
no fresh rash of rumors and scandal. One report had it that 
Richard/ Rita had raped Gerald. And this was not the ugliest of the 
rumors floating around the parish. 

Gerald, at first very angry with the psychiatrists, finally began to see 
it their way. Or at least that was what he said. He added, however, 
that they should not oppose his finishing the exorcism. If he could only 
do this, he assured them, then he would be satisfied. 

The final decision, of course, rested with Richard/ Rita's family and 
with Bert in particular. Bert was convinced that Richard /Rita's 
condition was the work of the devil, and that Gerald or another 
Catholic priest should be allowed to complete the exorcism. 

It was all very trying for Gerald. He felt "like a museum specimen 
or a medical case," as he remarked to the pastor. Besides, something in 


him told him that Richard /Rita could not go on and survive as he was, 
nor could he himself leave the exorcism unfinished as it was. 

"I have no death wish, Doctor," he said to the senior psychiatrist. 
"But neither have I any illusions about myself or about you. I cannot 
have long to live — even my own doctors agree on that. You have no 
religious beliefs whatsoever, on your own admission. Unless we strike a 
compromise, we will go on talking while Richard /Rita vegetates and I 
die. So let's make a deal." 

The deal was made. With conditions. Dr. Hammond was to be 
present at the exorcism. If he and the doctor, independently of Gerald, 
decided the resumed Exorcism ritual should be aborted at any 
particular point, Gerald would abort it. The exorcism would not be 
allowed to go beyond two days at maximum. On the other hand, 
Gerald would be in complete control as the exorcism proceeded. Dr. 
Hammond would behave exactly as one of Gerald's assistants. There 
were one or two other conditions, mainly to help the professional 
assessment and examination by the psychiatrist. But Gerald was 
satisfied. He had gained an opportunity to finish the exorcism. 

It was clear to Gerald now that only when he had attempted to 
uncover and separate the evil spirit's identity from Richard /Rita's, 
only then had he been attacked. He would take up at that very point 
where the process had left off and proceed with great caution, not 
drawing attention to himself in any way and endeavoring to rely on 
the power of the official ritual and the symbolism of his function. 

Early one morning, then, four and a half weeks after the violent 
interruption of the exorcism, Dr. Hammond drove Gerald down to 
Lake House to resume the exorcism of Richard /Rita. The assistants 
were there already, together with Father John. It was a somber day. A 
strong wind again bent the trees around the house. It started raining 
shortly after they arrived and continued all day and into the evening. 

Lake House itself was still and quiet. Richard /Rita was lying on the 
couch quietly dozing when Gerald arrived. Then, as if on signal, he 
doubled up and sank his teeth into his instep, opened his eyes and 
fixed them silently on the door through which Gerald and John would 
enter. Bert and Jasper, both carrying signs of the last few weeks in 
drawn looks and low voices, stood with the police captain and the 
teacher. Nobody spoke very much. As Gerald entered, Richard/Rita's 
eyes blazed with a fresh light. He moaned hungrily as a dog would for 
more food. His hands were opening and closing. Gerald gathered up 


his strength as he took his place beside the couch. He had carefully 
prepared his opening statement. But before he could speak, Richard/ 
Rita beat him to it. Loosening the teeth hold on his instep, and still 
glaring at Gerald, he said: "Gerald, darling, why all the trouble? Look 
what you have brought on yourself. You needn't bear all this pain. You 
have no need to pay such a price." It was the same trap. This time 
Gerald was ready. 

"The price — whatever price is necessary — has already been paid. 
You will obey the authority of Jesus and of his Church. Announce your 

Even as Gerald spoke, the pain ran quickly through new lanes in his 
flesh and bones. The lower part of his body, from his navel to his toes, 
grew rigid. The assistants saw the veins bulging on his forehead. He 
was fighting for control, struggling not to lose consciousness, straining 
to hear. Waiting and straining. Richard /Rita sank back flat on the 
couch in a deflated fashion, eyes closed, arms and hands thrown across 
his chest. 

After a dull pause, when he had almost given up hope of evoking 
obedience from the spirit, Gerald began to hear something that 
resembled a voice but that was totally unintelligible to him. At first, he 
thought that a group of people had arrived unannounced on the front 
lawn of Lake House and were congregating close to the front 
windows. But when he concentrated on that direction, the sound 
seemed to be coming from Richard/ Rita, then again from the back of 
the house. He distinctly heard several voices talking at the same time, 
breaking off, starting, laughing, occasionally grunting, even yelling in a 
mock fashion. They seemed to be both male and female, but the 
female voices seemed to dominate. Then the chatter died away as if 
they had all moved away from the house. 

Gerald stared at Richard /Rita: he was silent and motionless. Gerald 
was about to speak when the voices started again. This time they were 
in the room, but tantalizing him: when he concentrated on Richard/ 
Rita, they seemed to come from behind him; when he turned around, 
they seemed to come from Richard /Rita. He began to feel as if 
fragments of voices were free-floating and moving around the room. 
The assistants had not been prepared for eerie happenings such as this 
because Gerald did not have enough experience or knowledge of 
Exorcism to give them very detailed warnings. The strain they were 
undergoing showed in their constant perspiration and trembling. 


Dr. Hammond's reaction would have been comical under any other 
circumstances but these. As Father John told it afterwards, the 
psychiatrist started off with a professional expression of "business as 
usual" — grave, expressionless, watchful eyes, steadily taking notes. 
After a few minutes, his note-taking stopped, the expression on his 
face changed from the bland professional to incredulity, then a touch 
of impatience (as if he were being subjected to a practical joke), and 
finally the slightly ashen look of a man catching up for the first time 
with something unintelligible and alien to his opinion, threatening to 
his sanity and self-control. 

Gerald's puzzlement and dismay increased, because now he thought 
he could distinguish single words and phrases of one voice in 
particular; but every time, other words and phrases broke in and 
cluttered his hearing. It all ended up as abstract gibberish. 

Then the various strands of female voices seemed to quicken in pace 
and to start blending into one pitch and timbre, as if, syllable by 
syllable, all were catching up on a lead voice. And the male voices 
began to slow down in attack and amplitude, until they became a 
series of squeaks and sonorities more or less parallel but never 
coinciding. The two levels, male and female, began to mingle and 
sound as one in various syllables, but there were always overtones and 
annoying echoes muddying his efforts to understand. Gerald decided 
to intervene. 

"Whatever or whoever you are, you are commanded in the name of 
Jesus to state your name, to answer our questions." 

With that, the volume of noise started to increase and with it an 
uncontrollable dismay and fear in Gerald. He felt himself the target of 
some leviathan voice croaking from bloated lungs, cavernous throat 
and mouth, a voice of curses, abuse, blasphemy, in which his secret 
sins, ill will, obscenities all echoed and rolled and issued as a malig- 
nant challenge. 

Young Father John found the sounds in the room almost unbearably 
disturbing. He sprinkled holy water around Gerald and then around 
the couch. The noise rose to a fresh crescendo, then started to fall 
away. Richard/Rita, all this while, remained stretched out flat on his 

As the babel died away in a mumbling and choking sound, Gerald 
received the first onslaught of the Clash. Nobody had prepared him for 
it, and nobody had told him what to do. The old Dominican friar in 


Chicago had merely said that at some point "the old fella" would have 
to come out as himself. He warned Gerald to take care at that 
point — "It's worse than I can ever hope to tell you." It was. 

Gerald's greatest quality — stubbornness — now became the source of 
his torture. For he could not, would not let go. He had locked his will 
into that of the evil spirit. Even if in some exorcists the Clash starts in 
the mind, the imagination, or in a powerful intuitive sense of theirs, it 
finally comes home in full force to the will. From the start it was in 
Gerald's will that the struggle took place. 

Up to that moment he had felt his will pushing against a steel wall of 
resistance and attack. Now the wall seemed to melt and flow all 
around, while his will plunged into the molten heart of liquid heat that 
scorched and sizzled and frittered away every thew and sinew of his 
will, searing through every trace of padding and protection a human 
will employs — hopefulness, anticipation, remembrance of pleasure, 
satisfaction in fidelity, conscious ability to change or not to change, 
surety, persuasion that one is doing the right thing. 

It was not a darkness of mind, but a nudity of will. It was the place 
of deepest poignancy and sharpest sorrowing that any human being 
can reach while in a mortal condition. Dante had described it as the 
pathos of the soul which is not condemned to Hell (and knows that), 
but has no means of knowing if Heaven exists and yet must persevere 
in hope that apparent hopelessness is a prelude to happiness and 

Then the Clash materialized in his physical self. One by one, his 
hearing, his sight, his senses of touch, smell, and taste were affected. 
His vision became blurred — almost the same as when one videotape is 
played over another; both are clear enough to be seen, neither is clear 
enough to eliminate doubt. In his eardrums there began the sort of 
ache produced by a sudden burst of a jackhammer; and the ache 
continued. Whatever he touched gave him the funny shiver through 
the small of his back and spine he used to get when somebody rubbed 
a pane of glass with a dry thumb. His mouth tasted as if he had been 
chewing sour mijk and flour. And a wild odor he could not define 
lodged in his nostrils. Not of rottenness or putrefaction or sewage, but 
a sharp odor that his sense of smell could not take without a stinging 
recoil seizing his sinuses and the back of his mouth and throat in 

His assistants saw Gerald as he began to jackknife over. Two held 
him, one on either side; but, faithful to his instructions, they did not 


attempt to lead him out of the room. "(Jan von make it, Father?" 
asked Dr. Hammond. Gerald's only answer was to jerk his head in a 
quick gesture. 

The uncanny pressure was climaxing inside in his will and outside in 
his body. He felt the recently healed wounds in his back and belly 
loosening and flowing, the scabs giving way, and a salty sting in the 
opening flesh. He felt the wetness of his own blood and sweat. And 
Gerald knew he now had to make a supreme effort. 

"Your name! You who torment this creature of God. In the name of 
Jesus, and because of his power, your name! Now! Your name!" 

He heard the last rumbling traces of that attacking voice fading 
away. Richard /Rita stirred as if prodded with a sharp knife, writhing 
his head, neck, and back. He groaned. Then all in the room heard a 
little gravelly whisper, not faltering, just deliberate and slow. 

"Girl-Fixer. The Girl-Fixer. Girl-Fixer. We fix em. All sorts of girls. 
Young, old, married, unmarried, lesbians, neuters, girls who want to be 
fixed. Those who want to be fixed like girls. Anyone. We fix 'em. 
Oeeeeeeeeeeeh!" It was a larynx-shaking velp. "We fix em right! 

Gerald's weight on the arm of his assistants grew heavy. The 
pressure on him was increasing again. But he knew the name now. 
Girl-Fixer. He had broken through the deadly charade and he knew 
with every instinct that he must pursue hard before his advantage 
could slip away. 

"You will tell us: how many of you are there? Who are you? What 
do you do? Why do you hold this creature of God in slavery? You will 
tell us. Speak!" 

Gerald would have gone on repeating the same commands, but the 
younger priest made a small gesture reminding him he was falling into 
a repetitive pattern. They both waited. Gerald was still fighting the 
poison inside him. All his pain was with him. 

"Take you, for example, Priest!" The contempt and hate in the tone 
was chilling. "We fixed you, didn't we? Just feel, kiddo. Or just try to 
do something with your end, fore or aft. Oh, yes! We fixed von. 

Gerald steadied himself and tried to wet his lips; his mouth was dry 
and furry. His sight was getting blurred again. He had to keep at it. 
The teacher lifted a cup of water to his lips. He had to keep at it. He 
moistened his tongue and started again. 

"Tell us, in the name of Jesus ..." 

He was interrupted by a low groan from Richard/ Rita. Its agony 


paralyzed everyone; joined to the volume of pain and suffering in his 
own body, it struck Gerald dumb. Each of the others was affected by 
that groan: each one's imagination and memory went out of control. 
The police captain was back in the Korean prison camp where he had 
languished for two years; his buddy was groaning his life away in pain, 
as a grinning interrogator scraped the flesh off his ribs. The teacher 
was back in Surrey, England, in 1941, beside a German plane that had 
crashlanded, bursting into flames; the trapped German pilot was 
screaming, "Mutti! Mutti!" as he burned inside the plane. Richard's 
brothers were standing beside a shuddering, dying wolf they had shot 
over ten years ago during a hunting trip in Canada with their father; 
the wolf was groaning defiance and coughing up blood and staring at 
them. The doctor was back on a house call of the previous winter 
when he had watched a father, bending over the still-warm body of his 
dead three-month-old baby son, choke in hoarse, dry sobs. Everyone 
felt guilty, as of murder or willful torture. Someone or something was 
suffering untold pain and blaming them all. 

Only John, the younger priest, had no horror image or dreadful 
memory. He tried to finish Geralds command. And it was a painful 

"Answer," he said loudly, his voice cracking with nervousness. "In 
the name of Jesus, answer our questions ..." 

"Don't, John," Gerald interrupted thickly. But it was too late. The 
damage was done. The groaning stopped. Richard/Rita rolled over on 
his back, then sat up. There was a sudden, dreadful lull. The others 
were jerked back to the present. They tensed, ready to jump and hold 
Richard /Rita down. But all Richard/ Rita did was to open one eye. It 
appeared luminous, slitted, evilly joyous, focusing on John. 

"Ah! The lily-white cur!" Each word came out like paste squeezed 
slowly from a tube. Everyone present and listening waited on every 
syllable. "We'll fix you. In time." Gerald was filled with pity for John: 
now he was in for it. 

"You'll lose some of your hair. And you'll sit in a confessional and 
secretly wonder why they do the things they confess to you. And the 
wonder will change to curiosity. And the curiosity to desire. You won't 
admit it, but you will end with desire. To murder. To steal. To fuck. 
Whatever they tell you. And you'll feel the prick in you and you'll 
fudge on the monies. And you'll tilt the bottle. Then you'll let her hot 
hands soothe your fever" — the sarcasm was biting — "and when you 
get up, she'll drive you to the sea for your health and you'll have a 


quickie in the back of the ear — all for the love of vour sugar-coated 
Jesus. And shell need more and more of your love of God. And more. 
And more. And more. And" — the voice was now at a screaming 
crescendo — "you'll take several wives of several men, just to console 
them. You'll be a whoremaster on the altar, you lilv-white cur. And 
you'll be afraid to confess it." Richard/Rita started to screech and 
howl with laughter, rolling around the couch. "Maybe" — he stopped 
laughing and fixed John again with the one eye speculatively — 
"maybe, you'll come even into my box." 

The captain laid two strong hands on Richard /Rita's shoulders, 
restraining him firmly but gently. He was suddenly quiet. Then he 
turned the one eye on the captain and wrinkled his nose in mock 
disgust: "He'll screw your wife. Yours! She wants him already. A nice 
clean young man no woman ever had." 

"Frank, hold it," Gerald said hurriedly to the captain. He squeezed 
John's hand to reassure the young priest. He was now standing erect 
by himself. He reassured them all with a glance. Then slowly and in a 
solemn tone of voice to Richard/Rita: "Your name is Girl-Fixer. You 
will answer our questions." Painstakingly he listed them: "How many 
of you are there? Who are you? What do you do? Why do you hold 
this person whom Jesus saved?" 

Each question acted like a hammer blow on Richard /Rita. With 
each one Richard/ Rita sank back further on the couch. He seemed to 
shrink and diminish as if being flattened. A look of trapped horror 
spread over his face like a film. 

Gerald continued: "I ask these questions in the name of Jesus. You 
will answer." 

Richard/ Ritas body relaxed and went limp; he lay on his back, eyes 
closed. The captain loosened his hold finally and stood back. Gerald 
motioned to the assistants; thev moved awav from the bed. Richard/ 
Rita's two brothers looked at each other for a brief instant. They 
recollected later: their horror was almost equaled by their ounositv. 
What malign and dark forces had seized their brother? Wbv? Gould he 
be freed of them? Would thev give up? 

The pressure on Gerald was lightening inch by inch, he felt. He 
could feel little pockets of relief throughout his body. His vision 
started to clear up again. His ears stopped aching. He was no longer 
bleeding. He still had the inexorable gnawing around his middle, but 
now it was a dully insistent pain, steady, unwavering, predictable. 

For a few minutes Richard/ Rita's mouth opened and shut alter- 


nately. They could see his tongue moving inside, his cheeks tautening 
and loosening, his Adam's apple jerking up and down, He seemed to 
be forming words soundlessly. 

Then they began to hear him, at first faintly as a distant whisper, 
then in half words, then broken phrases, finally in whole sentences 
punctuated by trailing pauses and delivered in that gravelly tone 
which not even his brothers recognized as that of the Richard they had 
known all their lives. Dr. Hammond, too, had recovered his compo- 
sure, and was once more engaged in clinical observation of what was 

"How many of you are there?" Gerald repeated. Then he leaned 
forward listening intently. Bit by bit, he began to pick up the middle 
of words, the beginnings of phrases. 

". . . numbers . . . no bodies, fool . . . can you can't . . . 

numerality . . . spr . . . negative math . . . count only in power 

. . . unbroken will each and eve . . . stick together . . . 

gargantuan push on little pygmies ... no one solitary . . . off on their 
own . . . nothing . . . any one of us alone is nothing, has nothing . . . 
among us, a single spirit is merely a few fibers — will, mind — strung out 
on a measly being forever headed to an eternal absence, an endless 
vacuum ... a belly on two legs stumbling aimlessly across the dry bed 
of confirmed hopelessness . . . that's each one alone . . . impossible 
. . . nothing, a real nothing . . . hating, loathing, loving unlove and 
unloving . . . together around a human or hating the High Enemy 
. . . oaaaaaaaaaah . . . the push and shove and dent we make, the 
Kingdom, the Kingdom, there High Enemy never rules, dense, 
indistinguishable, one mass, one will, one complete beast, one 
brilliance pouring from the Daring One to all the others. So that 
humans back into the corner . . . take darkness as their lot, disease 
and pain and death and darkness ... on all sides scratched, bitter, 
stung, deadened, maddened by the crawling members of the Kingdom, 
the Kingdom . . ." 

"Have you all various names?" Gerald interjected. "Are you all 
equal? What are your identities?" 

The voice coming from Richard/Rita had sunk to a stage whisper. 

"Brilliant! Brilliant!" the psychologist breathed wonderingly to 
Gerald. "Just tne question to be asked!" 

"Must you go further on this line, Father?" Bert asked Gerald, 
watching his brother in dismay. 

"Kindly wait, my dear man." Dr. Hammond's eyes were bulging 


with interest, his face flushed with anger at the interruption. "This 
may be a landmark case of multiple personality." 

Gerald looked sideways at the psychiatrist. It was a look more of 
pity than surprise. But there was no time for more. 

". . . round and fat and red and black and male and female and 
what they do or smell like or walk like or do like, pygmy humans . . . 
names, what names? ... a breath of little lungs . . . it's what we do, 
we are . . . millions if you count the wills, the minds, infinite if you 
weigh the hatings, the living hatings . . . one above the other, no one 
is all, all are under one, some so near the Daring One they have 
intelligence only the High Enemy can match, some so low they are 
turds, the shards, the lumps beneath his heel, the dust between his toes 
. . . and loving it all, all the degradation . . . anything to disfigure 

A fit of crackling, cackling laughter seemed to grip Richard /Rita. 
Whatever or whoever was amused, it was a frightening look Richard/ 
Rita now wore: his mouth drawn back, all his teeth bared, his cheeks 
lined from the stretching of the lips, chin bobbing up and down, 
nostrils flaring and distended — and the ugly horror of that amusement. 
This was no belly laugh or dry, subtle joke, no reaction to fine wit or 
deep humor. Just a triumphal screeching sound undulating out on felt 
waves of satisfaction for hate, of acquiescence in unhappiness, of 
refusal to envisage any existence but that of living in death, of 
mercilessness, of perpetual banality exalted into a way of existence. 

Gerald spoke again. "What do you do, you of the Kingdom? 
Girl-Fixer? All of you? What do you do?" 

Richard /Rita was now covered with perspiration. His clothes and 
the top of the couch were sodden. The temperature of the room had 
become stifling in the last hour. A stale odor hung in the air. Each one 
present had a throbbing headache. Bert and Jasper had begun again to 
support Gerald on either side. Both the brothers looked like men 
wounded and bled dry of any feeling. They had been numbed by 
compassion for their brother and by fear for his well-being. Father 
John was saying his rosary beads. The teacher and the police captain 
stood on either side of the couch. Listening to Richard/Rita's rambling 
talk, they seemed to have shrunk to shadows of their former selves, 
their burly forms drooping and listless. 

The only one still spry, coldly thoughtful, active, still moving around 
and in apparent control of himself, was the psychiatrist. In spite of his 
apparent stress, there was a gleam in his eyes, picked up by his 


steel-rimmed spectacles, that bespoke the professional behaving 
predictably in the teeth of invaluable experience. Dear God, Gerald 
prayed silently, let him be spared the price of any further stupidity he 
may yet commit. 

Dr. Hammond, however, concentrated on Richard /Rita's reply as 
his body stiffened on the couch. The police captain and the teacher 
held Richard /Rita down. Jasper left Gerald's side and placed his hands 
on Richard/ Rita's ankles. They could all ''feel" the resistance coming. 

"Why should we reply? The High ..." 

"Because Jesus commands you. And his cross protects us. And you 
were defeated by his sacrifice. And you will obey. Answer." 

Again Richard/ Rita went limp. The groaning started and lasted a 
minute or two. James could feel his brother's whole body vibrating as 
if electric waves were being shot through it in quick, successive spurts. 

"We . . . we . . . leave us to the Kingdom. You hear! Rita is one of 
us now. Forever. You cannot have Rita." 

"Rita is baptized. And saved. And forgiven. You do not anymore 
have the freedom of Rita's body and Rita's soul," Gerald shot with a 
savagery he never had felt before. "You will tell us what you do, how 
you fix. Answer. In the name of Jesus." 

For a few minutes, Gerald had the impression that the confused 
babel of voices was starting again, but it came to nothing. In that tiny, 
limping, unknown voice, Richard /Rita spoke again. It was the weird 
and unaccustomed voice that made him a stranger to his brothers. 

"Oh, it starts with the box and ends with the box. So long as we 
make them think the box is all, we fix them. We can make a whore of 
the grandest — all legal, all secure, if once ... if once they think the 
box is woman, woman a box . . . the greatest insult to the High 
Enemy, because woman is likest to the High Enemy. A man is a thing. 
A woman is being. We fix them so they think . . . it's nothing but a 
big, fat dick in a sea of hormones, and smellings and screams, and all 
the shouting and jabbing and pulling and jerking. Tie them to the 
dickybird tight in his cage. Tie them to that. Don't let them see 
beyond. And she will make the man in her image. Tie him too ..." 
Richard /Rita broke off, turning on the couch and gasping as if for air. 
"You! Priest! We've fixed you for . . ." 

"No, Girl-Fixer. Jesus has defeated you. In his name you will 
answer: why do you hold this creature, Rita, in slavery? Why?" 

Gerald in his inexperience was following a dangerous yet apparently 
elementary line of reasoning. It seemed logical to him to insist on 


finding out why or how Richard /Rita had come to be possessed. But 
there was always the danger that his own mental curiosity would 
conquer his better judgment. He might, in that case, advance so far as 
to tamper with the innards of evil and get injured beyond repair. 

As it turned out before the end of the exorcism, it was not Gerald 
who suffered the consequences of such tampering. 

"We do as we are bidden by the Daring One. Rita was our prey, our 
soul. Rita chose to be a box, to be a box, to be a box, to be a box. Even 
when the High One spoke, he chose to be a box, to be a box, to be a 

Gerald, by some inner sense, felt that one single, personal strand of 
evil and resistance had faded or was fading from the scene; it felt as if 
a lesser intelligence was now coping with his questions. 

Richard /Rita began to struggle and gasp again. Gerald reflected for 
a moment. What next? Should he keep silent and let all things quiet 
down? Should he press forward and extract more information? He 
remembered the old Dominican saying with a shake of the head: "If 
you get a chance to squeeze them dry of words, do so. If you can, press 
them to tell what exactly happened. But don't get into a give-and-take 
of a normal argument. They will always beat you. And a beating can 
be more than you can take." 

Gerald looked again at Richard/Rita; his body was thrashing back 
and forth jerkily; the assistants were looking at Gerald for some 
direction. He decided to ask one more question. 

"Evil Spirit, in the name of Jesus, announce the trap in which you 
caught Richard/ Rita. I ask this by the authority of the Church and in 
the name of Jesus." 

Richard /Rita's horrible voice answered: "We start with self-growth, 
self-discovery. We tell 'em, we told Rita: First, you must be yourself, 
find yourself, know who you are. They stick their noses in their own 
navels and say: I like my own smell! Then, that woman alone, woman 
alone, is the thing to be. She has it all within her, but man has it all 
hanging out." 

The assistants had moved away from the couch and stood in almost 
unbelieving fright near Gerald. Bert no longer supported Gerald, but 
leaned on the night table. 

"To be a woman is to be completely independent, we tell them. No 
guilt. Not masculine. Not feminine. Complete in herself. Cunt and clit 
in one. Androgynous. Free of guilt feelings, of all responsibility to a 
man. Biologicaaaaaaaaaaal!" Richard/Rita's voice stretched out, ca- 


ressing the last syllable. At a sign from Gerald, the assistants moved 
baek and laid hands on Richard/Rita. A pause. Then: "To be freed 
from any need of other. Let them think that they are past ambition of 
ecstasy on a prick, but totally sensual because they can laugh at love 
and all its makings; that they are developing their own self-contained 
skills; that her own intimacy with herself is the whole world, without 
the intrusion of the male; that she is full of internal spaces in herself, 
infinite spaces, infinite enough to contain all she could ever wish to 
have or be; that she can be tranquil, full of personalities, many-sided, 
all of man, without his tomfoolery, all of woman without the alley-cat 

Richard /Rita stopped. Only the four pairs of hands restrained him 
from getting up. His legs and arms wrestled for a few moments, then 
ceased. He groaned again and began to mutter inaudibly. 

"Speak, Girl-Fixer! Speak! Let us hear your voice clearly!" 

"Then . . . then . . . the same old trap. The same old trap we've 
taken many in — we still catch them in. That they fuck as necessarily as 
birds sing, as water flows, as the fire burns. Merely to show how 
independent they are. How superior they are. That if they don't 
breathe for fucking, live for fucking, sing in fucking, they can't 
breathe, cry, sing, love, or do anything. Be liberated. That's what they 
begin to say. Man, woman, or goat, little boy, or if it comes to that, 
little girl. And then, when Rita got there — Oeeeeeeeeeeeh!" It was a 
yelp of triumph as before. 

Gerald was in command. There was not even a vestige of the 
Pretense now. But Richard/ Rita was still caught in the teeth of this 
wild, evil thing and was virtually flung about on the couch as the 
Girl-Fixer cackled on. 

"And, after that . . . one penis. Then another penis. Then a third. A 
fourth. A fifty- fourth. A forest of 'em. Sharp stakes. All the same. 
Oeeeee! And then the hate at being loved so. And the disgust at 
hating. And the hating of so loving. And the loving of hate. And the 
lying in wait for the penis. And the laughter at its nonsense. And the 
slavery. Many of us are the rump of the Daring One. Every Rita is a 
piece of his shit ..." 

It was enough. Gerald broke in brusquely. There was only one 
question more. "At what point in time did Rita give over possession to 
you? When was it consummated?" 

"In the snow. In the wind. We knew then we could find a place in 
him. Bend him to our will. But he had invited years before ..." 


Gerald decided that all he wanted to know had been told. The evil 
spirit had been sufficiently subdued and humiliated. Now it could be 

""Lord God of Heaven, in the name of Jesus Ghrist, your only 
begotten son, and in the name of your Holy Spirit, we pray that you 
will grant us our prayer and free this your servant, Richard, from the 
toils of slavery and the foul possession of this evil spirit.'' Gerald had 
been looking up at the ceiling during this prayer. Now he looked down 
at Richard /Rita, held up the crucifix, and prepared to begin the final 
exorcising prayer. 

Dr. Hammond broke in, whispering urgently in his ear: "Father, 
don't let it stop here. Let me put a few professionally oriented 

In spite of his dislike of psychiatrists and his general annoyance with 
this one, Gerald remained afraid for him. He whirled around painfully, 
urgently pleading in a cracked voice: "For the love of Jesus, Dr. 
Hammond, for your own sake, keep your mouth shut. Stay out of this. 
You don't know what you . . ." 

But it was too late. Dr. Hammond had gone over beside Richard/ 
Rita. He sat down on the edge of the couch and began to speak calmly, 

"Now, Rita, we have nearly finished. This is almost at its close. You 
will be calm. There's nothing to be fearful of. Answer my questions. 
And after that, you will wake up." 

Richard /Rita stopped turning and twisting. He lay utterly still. His 
face relaxed. The expression around his lips softened. Dr. Hammond, 
rather tense in the beginning, now began to relax. It was a mistake on 
Gerald's part to allow the psychiatrist to do this. No experienced 
exorcist would have permitted such blatant and dangerous interfer- 
ence. It was dangerous not only because the whole exorcism might 
break down and be completely lost, but it could be possibly fatal for 
the person so unwary as to reach out in ignorance and touch summary 
evil. So it proved in one sense for Dr. Hammond. 

A sudden, dull silence fell in the wake of his opening words to 
Richard/ Rita. After all the pain and noise and groaning and strain, 
that silence was surprisingly alien to them all. One by one, each head 
lifted. Hammond's professional air — his blue business suit, his specta- 
cles, his knowing tone, his very confidence in moving to Richard/ Rita's 
couch and sitting down to speak, overruling Gerald's warnings by his 

244 THE cases 

behavior — all this made them think, as the policeman recalled, "After 
all, this may be more normal than I thought." 

But what Gerald sensed was not the lifting of an evil presence, but a 
shift. Dr. Hammond had fallen into the same trap as Gerald had done 
four and a half weeks before, and with infinitely poorer defenses than 
even Gerald had had. Only Gerald and the teacher grew tense with 
the fear of understanding. 

But suddenly, almost in unison and as if their unwinding had been 
something you could see and hear, they all stopped unwinding. You 
could almost see and hear the sudden cessation of flooding relief. In 
that silence they were listening. A change was taking place. They all 
sensed now what Gerald and the teacher had sensed. A change in 
something or somewhere near them or connected with them, with that 
room, with Gerald, and with Richard/ Rita. 

Finally even the psychiatrist stopped, his professional calm rup- 
tured. He had the half-annoyed, half-hurt look of someone interrupted 
in the middle of a sentence. He looked quickly at Gerald and the 
others, alarm spreading across his features. For the first time in his 
professional life, Dr. Hammond was face to face with something he 
knew was far beyond his reach to categorize as a verifiable known or 
unknown. What he was then beginning to perceive, he felt, he had 
always known but never acknowledged, even in the deepest moments 
of the eight years of analysis through which he had successfully passed. 

But his scientific mind was his only ready defense, and he kept up 
the protest in his mind: Verify! Get the facts! Test them! But he knew. 
There was no verifiable fact. There was a reality made transparent to 
him. Before this moment, he would have labeled this a product of the 
irrational. But it now appeared to be real beyond all reason. And he 
had always known it. 

Slowly they all began to hear sound. It was, at the beginning, like 
the sound of a crowd or mob — feet pounding faintly, voices shouting, 
screaming, yelling, jeering, talking, distant whistling and grunting. 
They could not fix from what direction it came. The teacher glanced 
out the windows at the pond. The trees were moving gently in the 
wind; a few ducks paddled around in the water; the evening was still 
bright. Then the noise sounded nearer, just as confused as ever, but 
now 7 with one overall mood or note; mourning for an ineluctable 
sorrow. Listening to that sound on the tape recording of the exorcism, 
and as it grows louder and louder, one begins to get the conviction of 
listening to the tortured murmurs and helpless protests of a mob in 


agony, keening and wailing for deeps of regret, screaming and 
groaning for the ache of punishment and unremitting penalty, yelling 
impotently in condemnation, vibrating as a whole beast of suffering, as 
some protean heart thumping in the mud and squalor that history 
never recorded and human mercy had never penetrated. 

Over and above all the voices but constantly weaving in and out 
among them, there was the full scream of a woman orchestrating all 
the other noises and voices around itself as their theme. It came in 
great rising and falling curves, louder and fainter, still louder and then 
fainter, regular, upbeat, jarring, resounding with a passion of pain and 
lost hope. 

Gerald noticed that everyone in the room seemed to be bending, 
lowering his height as if afraid of something moving in the upper part 
of the room. Nothing was visible up there. 

Dr. Hammond sat as if unable to move from the edge of the couch. 
Richard/Rita's lips turned blue, his eyes open and staring vacantly. 
The attending doctor moved to his side to take his pulse and found his 
body very cold, the pulse steady but weak. 

"Father, this cannot go on much longer," Father John managed to 
shout to Gerald. "He's taken enough already." 

"Not very much more! Not very long, now!" Gerald shouted back. 
But the remainder of what he wanted to say went unsaid. It was the 
psychiatrist who now claimed his attention. Dr. Hammond had slipped 
off the couch and stood in an askew way looking halfway around over 
his shoulder at Richard/Rita, his eyes narrowed with apprehension, his 
notebook fallen and forgotten. No one, the psychiatrist included, could 
shake his mind loose from the web of pain and regret pervading the 

The noise and the din of sobbing and mourning rose finally to an 
undulating pitch. Richard/Rita's face suffused with color; red patches 
and streaks discolored his arms and neck. Even his eyes deepened in 
color. He was trying to speak. 

Gerald was alerted: something was corning, and he felt he must 
make his final challenge very fast. 

"In the name of Jesus, you are commanded to leave this creature of 
God. You will go out of Rita and leave him whole and entire ..." 

Richard/Rita's sudden scream split their eardrums. "We go, Priest. 
We go." It was a million turbulent voices as one, full of eternal ache 
and pain. "We go in hate. And no one will change our hate. And we 
will wait for you. When you come to die, we'll be there. We go. 


But" — Gerald heard the sharp injection of hate hissing through the 
sorrow — "we take him." Richard/Rita's hands suddenly swept up in a 
wide arc toward Dr. Hammond. It was a quick but clumsy movement. 

Hammond jumped backward. And Richard/Rita fell off the couch 
to the floor as the assistants jumped forward and held him down. 

"We already have his soul. We claim him. He is ours. And you 
cannot do anything about that. We already have him. He is ours. W T e 
needn't fight for him." 

Richard/ Rita was wheezing like someone being asphyxiated, eyes 
bulging, neck muscles standing out, his long hair falling back, his chest 
heaving, as he half- rose in his effort. "You can't get him back. He is 
ours. He does our work. He doesn't need a box. He puts everybody 
else into it." 

All calm was gone from Dr. Hammond; his face was a picture of 
black fear. 

"Here . . . we can't stay here any longer." It was still the voice 
from Richard/Rita, and it was full of inflexible pain and bitterness. 
"There is too much to suffer here. Where will we . . ." The voice 
trailed off. 

Richard /Rita kicked and scratched at the straining assistants. Then 
he started to scream until at last he fainted, and above and around 
them the last syllables of his words trailed off into the din of voices. 
They spiraled up to a thin, high note, then sank to a thumping 
resonance like the bellowing of a gored bull. Slowly they faded into 
the distance. Those many tortuous voices, those myriad footfalls with 
decreasing rhythm and ever fainter sound all began to withdraw 
farther and farther from their presence, like a funeral procession 
plodding its way inch by inch, swaying and twisting, out of the city of 
man, swallowed by the great, unknown wilderness of the surrounding 
night. That single beating scream of the woman still rang dolefully but 
more and more faintly above the dying echoes of the withdrawing 
multitude, until finally there was only a little swatch of sound rising 
and sinking, rising and sinking, and in the end never rising again out of 
the silence. 

As the sound had receded, Richard /Rita's struggling had progres- 
sively ceased. The tension holding everyone had lessened and lessened 
until they realized one by one, as they lifted their heads, moved 
uneasily, then looked at each other's faces, that they were standing 
alone with each other in a small bedroom, that there was a curious 


silence, and that their world was still right-side up. It was over. All was 

Gerald glanced at the psychiatrist. He was leaning back against the 
wall, spectacles in one hand, while he cried unreservedly into his other 
hand. "Bert, see to him, will you?" Gerald said gently. 

"Leave me. Leave me be/' muttered Dr. Hammond, in between his 
tears. Then he drew a deep breath: "I'm all right. Leave me be." He 
walked slowly to the door, pulled it open, then half-turned and looked 
back at Richard /Rita and at Gerald. He had the look of someone 
unjustly hurt; and his eyes held a puzzlement and appeal. Then, 
without a word, he turned and went out. He would have conversations 
with Gerald later. But now he had no words. And he was tired beyond 

After about 20 minutes, they lifted Richard /Rita on to the couch. 
He was coming to. He motioned with his hand to Gerald. He was 
obviously very weak but quite self-possessed and aware. Gerald saw 
the smile in his eyes and faintly at the corners of his mouth. 

"Father, I have not felt so restful and so light in ten years. I . . ." 

"No need to say much now, Rita," said Gerald. 

"But, Father Gerald, I . . . T am happy for the first time for a long 

"We'll talk about it later," Gerald said, smiling through his pain; he 
was bleeding again and his pelvis was riven with an aching soreness. 
He straightened up as much as he could, and turned to go. 

"Father Gerald!" Richard /Rita struggled up and leaned on one 
elbow. He was looking out the window. "I am . . . I . . . please 
. . . call me Richard. Richard I was born. Richard I will die." He 
glanced up at Gerald. "The rest of it" — his gaze traveled down over 
his body — "for the rest of it, let's rely on God and — and Jesus." He 
paused and looked away as if remembering or trying to remember 
something. Then, looking again at Gerald, "Father, they told me . . . 
or I heard them say — I don't know which — there isn't much time . . . 
you know . . ." He broke off lamely. 

"I know, Richard," Gerald said trying to smile, but feeling the lead 
weight inside him. Somewhere deep in his belly a gray slug was eating 
his vitals. And somewhere in his heart, a lump of coldness had taken 
up residence. "I know. I have known for quite a while. I know. It's all 
right. It was my own choice." 

Outside on the driveway, Dr. Hammond was sitting in the driver's 
seat of his car waiting. The engine was already started. 


"Going to be a very wet night, Father Gerald," he said. Despite the 
strain, there was a note of cordiality and respect Gerald had not 
noticed before. "Let me drop you on my way to the office. I must get 
my report on tape tonight before I forget anything. They can type it 
up tomorrow." 

Gerald slid in painfully beside him and waved goodbye to Jasper, 
who had been helping him. 

"Tell me, Dr. Hammond," he said chattily as they swung out on to 
the main road, "do you believe in the Devil?" 

Uncle Ponto and 
the Mushroom-Souper 

"Uncle Ponto!" Jamsie screamed in fury as he reached for the door of 
his apartment. "Uncle Ponto! This time, I'll do it. By Jesus, I'll do it. 
You'll see! Ill do it." He banged the door after him. As he scrambled 
down the steps into the street and fumbled with the car key, he 
muttered angrily: "That does it — permanently, eh? That does it. I'll fix 
you, you little bastard." 

Jamsie was shaking all over his tall, raw-boned frame. He was 
gripped by a sense of frustration that put him almost out of control of 
himself. His reddish hair and high complexion had always been 
startling for people. But now his cadaverous face was flushed with 
passion, his eyes were blazing. His appearance must have been 

In a few moments he was at the wheel. Fumbling and cursing, he 
got the car started, made a quick, jerky U-turn, and was immediately 
off gathering speed as he headed away from San Francisco. 

Jamsie was seething with an accumulated rage so great that he 
continued to shake. He had put up with Uncle Ponto's annoyances for 
over six years. Finally he had had enough. Even though Ponto had left 
him alone a lot of the time, and even though he had been able to sleep 
in peace in his own apartment at night until fairly recently, and even 
though he had at times even relished the eerie company of Ponto and 
got a kick out of their encounters, nevertheless, on this early Saturday 
morning, he had had enough. Ponto wanted to move in completely and 
permanently and immediately, to take him over, him and his entire 


life. And something had broken inside Jamsie. He had to finish the 
whole thing now. 

''You won't bother me any more. You'll get off my ass. You'll ..." 

Jamsie's voice trailed off. A glance in the rearview mirror was 
enough: Uncle Ponto was on the back seat, that same uncouth smirk 
on his face that always enraged Jamsie. 

"I told you before," Jamsie shouted violently into the mirror, "that 
is a dirty smile. A pigs smile! A foul, swinish smile!" Then in a sudden 
excess of anger and frustration: "Hell! Hell! Hell!" He paused to 
negotiate a corner. "Hell again! Now you've asked for it, Ponto. This is 

He lapsed into silence, breathing heavily, and drove on. Now and 
again he shot a furtive glance into the rearview mirror to reassure 
himself that Ponto was still there. Jamsie could see the squarish head 
ending in what was almost a point, the narrow forehead with the tiny 
zigzag eyebrows slanting upward, the large, bulbous eyes with the 
whites so reddened that you could hardly distinguish them from the 
deeply pink irises. And Ponto 's nose and mouth and chin — what there 
was of chin — had always reminded Jamsie of a long, thin pencil stuck 
in a very ungainly Idaho potato. 

Ponto's face looked as if it had been put together in the dark by 
several people working at cross-purposes, with each part coming from 
a different face. No one part really matched another part. Even his 
face color, a brownish-black, clashed with his sparse blond hair, which 
sat like a cheap toupee on top of that peculiar pointed head. 

He would have been comic-looking — and Jamsie sometimes had a 
good laugh at his facial characteristics — were it not for the normal 
expression on Ponto's face. For it was in no way the comic face of a 
circus clown, in which irregularity and human feeling combined to 
give a sense of pathos. Ponto's was a caricature of a human face. 
Where the clown's face read: "Laugh! But know that I mirror the 
helplessness of us all," Ponto's face read: "Don't laugh! But do despair, 
because I mirror the real absurdity of you all." And what really 
prevented Jamsie from any constant amusement about Ponto's face 
was the thick transformation through which it could pass. At times it 
did not look human at all. It was something else for which Jamsie had 
no name — neither animal nor human nor even a nightmare face born 
in bad dreams or shown in the Chamber of Horrors. 

"All I'm asking for, all I ever asked for," Jamsie remembers Uncle 
Ponto saying softly sometime later, as they drove onto Highway 101, 


"is that you let me come and live with you. I won't be in the way. You 
need a friend like me." 

Jamsie snorted with rage; his steering became erratic for a moment. 

"You see," Ponto continued in his primest tones. "You see! You 
shouldn't have got so upset. You're not as good a driver as your father, 
Ara, was." 

"Leave my father out of this," Jamsie grated. 

Ponto's voice was something else again. Never loud, even when 
Ponto was screaming, it had a painful effect most of the time. It left 
ringing echoes inside Jamsie's hearing, so that any kind of extended 
conversation with Ponto ended up in jabbing earaches. 

As a matter of fact, Ponto had only started to bother him long after 
his father's gradual degeneration from self-supporting artisan to New 
York hack driver to part-time pimp to dope peddler. Yes, and long 
after his mother's taking to prostitution on New York streets as a last, 
desperate means of livelihood. 

Leave them out of this, Jamsie thought silently. What lay between 
himself and Uncle Ponto was entirely personal. 

In brief, Jamsie had had enough of Uncle Ponto's harassment. Two 
years of sudden appearances morning, noon, and night, and of 
uninvited interventions that had wrecked his personal life, all this had 
finally become too much. In the beginning Jamsie had even welcomed 
Ponto's unpredictable antics. They had provided some relief to his 
boredom. At times he had been amused, stimulated, even bettered and 
helped in various practical difficulties. And, after years of creeping 
horror prior to Ponto's first appearance, years of being pursued by 
strange, intangible threats, Ponto was at least a visible butt for Jamsie's 
general anger at life and at people — and at himself. But that had been 
merely the beginning. 

It might have continued like that if Ponto had not changed his tack. 
But, after a while, Jamsie had found that Uncle Ponto was pressuring 
him. From being an occasional visitor and companion, Ponto had 
started to assume the role and privileges of a familiar, a close associate, 
an intimate friend. It was only then that Jamsie had received the full 
blast of Ponto's twisted personality. And it had been too much for 

They were coming up to San Jose. Ponto had started to speak again. 
But Jamsie had been taken in by Ponto's put-ons before. He clamped 
his lips tight, resolved to give Ponto the old silent treatment. It had 
occasionally worked in the past. 


Jamsie had heard it all before: what Ponto thought of his father and 
mother; how he, Jamsie, should stay away from women and liquor 
("Women are death," Ponto dinned into him; ''booze makes you 
easygoing"); who really was Jamsie's friend in this life — Ponto himself, 
or people like Lila Wood, Jamsie's onetime girlfriend, and Lila's 
friend, Father Mark. On Ponto rambled. 

Jamsie had just passed San Jose and entered Highway 52, and was 
heading eastward to Hollister. Ponto's tone took on a note of suspicion. 

"You told me you didn't like San Benito County, Jamsie!" A pause. 

Jamsie kept his eyes glued to the road. 

Ponto changed his tone. Now he was wheedling. "Just sa Y' Yes,' 
Jamsie." Ponto was almost plaintive. "Just say, 'Yes.' You've no idea 
... I don't want to go back . . . All those homes up there ..." 
Jamsie glanced up at the houses dotting the hillsides. "There's no 
welcome for me up there in spite of their boozing and bitching and 

With no reaction or answering word from Jamsie, Ponto fell silent. 
Jamsie stared ahead. Another long silence. 

Sometime later, as Jamsie turned south on Highway 25 into the San 
Benito River Valley, a sardonic smile crept involuntarily across his 
mouth. I'll show you, he was thinking. You little sonavabitch. This will 
rid me of you, get it all over with, once and for all. 

Uncle Ponto was agog again. He was becoming frantic. 

"Jamsie, you're opaque to me now. Stop THAT! You hear me! Stop 
THAT! I'm getting bad vibes, very bad vibes. All darkness and fog." 

The memory of Lila's friend, Father Mark, came back to Jamsie 
again. "Mushroom -Souper," that's what Ponto had derisively nick- 
named Father Mark. On the one evening Jamsie had visited with the 
priest, Mark had treated him to mushroom soup made from his own 
recipe. Afterward, Jamsie had talked with him into the small hours of 
the morning, telling him of his early life, of Ponto's harassment, and of 
his own deep despair and continual rage against life. Mark seemed to 
understand much more than he was able to explain to Jamsie. But 
several times during that conversation, Jamsie had found himself 
incapable of going along with what Mark proposed: to get rid of Uncle 
Ponto. Always, at that point, Jamsie felt an unaccountable fear. If 
Ponto no longer existed in his life, what would happen? It was just as 
if Ponto represented some security or as if in some way or other he had 
given his word to Ponto. 


He glanced at Ponto in the rearview mirror. Ponto was leering 
contentedly. The sight of that gash Ponto passed off as a smile roused 
Jamsie's anger again. He could not restrain himself. 

" You're the son of the Father of Lies!" he shouted poisonously at 
Ponto. "That's what Mark said Jesus called him ..." 

Jamsie's ears were split by a high-pitched scream from Ponto. 
"DON'T!" Ponto shouted. "Don't mention that person's name in my 
presence. Don't mention THAT!" Ponto's queer face was contorted in 
utter misery. 

There was silence for a while. Jamsie glanced at either side. How 
happy he had been here in this countryside with his father for a few 
days of a childhood visit years before. Eastward stood the Diablo 
Range — an ironic touch to the situation, Jamsie thought. To the west 
ran the Gabilan Range. Ahead lay the Pinnacles National Monument. 
They should arrive within an hour at the park. 

Got to get it over with, Jamsie began saying to himself over and over 
again. But, as the memories of his childhood happiness passed before 
his mind, he began to wonder. Got to free myself, he found himself 
thinking. Got to rid myself of this "familiar," got to free. But Ponto 
started to chatter again and interrupted his thoughts. 

Every time he started to think, really to think, Ponto would 
interrupt. That, he realized, was what capped his resolution to end it 
all: this perpetual muzzling of his thoughts and feelings. When Ponto 
talked in his strange way, his words seemed to drown all of Jamsie's 
thinking. He could not think or feel. 

Jamsie pressed down on the accelerator. He had to get to the 

Then, without warning, pain blocked his memories and dulled all 
thought. He felt the pressure inside his chest. He had experienced it 
before when trying to resist Ponto. It began at his rib cage just beneath 
his skin; and, as it had during the last few weeks, it started to contract 
inward toward the center of his body. It seemed to be pulling at his 
brain trying to force it down his spinal column. 

All Jamsie could think of was the counterstratagems Mark had tried 
to teach him that evening. 

"Jesus," he muttered under his breath. 

Then he began to spell the word out letter by letter. "J-E-S-U-S, 
J-E-S-U-S, J-E-S-U-S." About 20 times. Next he spelt the name out by 
running down the alphabet from A to J, from A to E, from A to S, from 
A to U, from A to S. Then he started all over again. 


He did not do this as a prayer. He had been taught it by Father 
Mark as a means of blocking Ponto's influence. 

The internal pressure started to lessen. He could breathe again. 

"Jamsie," came the horrified squawk of Uncle Ponto. "You know I 
don't like that. I don't like that at all. You know very well. I can't 
stand that. Stop it this minute, or I can't go on. You will lose me, you 
hear. You will lose me." 

Jamsie started laughing, first of all quietly in his throat, then 
uncontrollably out loud. 

"My friends and relatives won't like this at all," squeaked Ponto, 
voice high-pitched, elbows beating against his sides, hands wringing in 
the air. Jamsie laughed and laughed. This was what he used to call 
Ponto's "duck fit." 

At least that worked, he thought. He did not know why that name 
disturbed Ponto. But Jamsie laughed from sheer relief nearly all of the 
next 32 miles. He had a pain from laughing. He was profoundly 
relieved to have got the best of Ponto for now, at least. 

At times he stopped laughing when his thoughts became grim. 
Then, catching sight of Uncle Ponto's pointy little skull, heavy lids, 
and chinless face covered with that fretfulness of Ponto's "duck fit," 
he would start laughing again. 

At the gate of Pinnacles National Monument the ranger took his 
money. Jamsie parked the car beside the Visitor's Monument, bought a 
map and a flashlight, and set off across the chaparral of Pygmy Forest. 
He knew where he wanted to go. And he was almost jubilant. But 
immediately Uncle Ponto was by his side. Jamsie now paid no 
attention to him. Something in the air exhilarated him. He felt freer 
than he had for a long time. He started to walk quickly. "Reservoir, 
here I come!" he hummed to the tune of "California, Here I Come!" 

Ponto started to wheedle him again. "Jamsie, sit down a moment. 
Smell the hollyleaf cherry, the manzanita, these wild flowers. Sit down 
and rest a while. You were told to watch your heart. You're my 
investment. You're home for me. You're not going to walk all nine 
miles up and down, are you? Please! Jamsie! Please stop and talk it 
over with me. Please!" 

Jamsie kept on. As he started to climb up to Bear Gulch Caves, he 
opened the map. 

"It's no use, Jamsie," said Ponto. "I tell you, it's no use." 

Jamsie turned his back on Ponto, searching the map for his way to 


the reservoir. But Ponto was up to his tricks again. Every time Jamsie's 
eyes and finger came near that name on the map, the name shifted. It 
shifted and sidestepped and dodged him, zigzagging across the map. 

Jamsie began to get angry and then fearful. He slammed the map 
onto a flat rock and plunged his finger at "Reservoir." But it was too 
late. "Reservoir" slipped off the map and shot up into the sky over his 

Jamsie sprang up, cursing and hurling profanities at the blue sky 
where the word "Reservoir" danced and flowed around like a pennant 
towed by an invisible airplane. He swayed as he squinted up. 
Suddenly, "Reservoir, here I come" danced around in the sky. Then a 
whole skyful of dancing words spelled out letter by letter — and 
backwards: S-U-S-E-J, E-I-S-M-A-J, S-U-S-E-J, E-I-S-M-A-J. 

Jamsie stamped on the ground. He was violently angry again. "To 
Hell with you and your tricks, you filthy brute. To Hell with you and 
your tricks . . ." 

But he only heard the echo of his own shout and knew he was alone. 
He looked up. All was quiet. The sky was clear and blue. There was no 
trace of Uncle Ponto. The dancing letters were no more. He was alone. 

He grabbed the map and stumbled on. Now his mind was made up. 

After another half mile, Jamsie entered Bear Gulch Caves. He had 
been here about 20 years before with his father, and his memory 
started to serve him. 

Halfway up through the narrow corridor of the cave, he began to 
hear more than his own footsteps. At first, it was the splashing of 
unseen cascades and the gurgling of underground streams. But quickly 
he began to realize a voice was becoming audible. It was Ponto's, of 

"Jamsie, you know I will have to give an accounting for all this 
foolishness. I am responsible." 

The voice came from above. Jamsie pointed the flashlight to the 
roof. Long ago some huge blocks of rock had fallen across a narrow 
fissure in the canyon wall and stuck there, closing it from the light of 
day and forming a roof. Ponto was dangling in between two of those 
rocks, his eyes glittering with malice. "Oh! I'm here all right." 

"What the . . ." Jamsie was about to erupt; then all the fight 
drained out of him. He suddenly felt weak and helpless. In a sort of 
desperation, he started to run and stumble through pools of water and 
over rocks, wetting his feet and scraping his shins and ankles. Behind 


him, always near, came Ponto's mocking voice: "This can only end 
badly, Jamsie, if you keep on like this. Yon have to come back to me in 
the long run, you know. You can't do without me now. Not now!" 

That "Not now" pursued Jamsie in a thousand echoes. It increased 
his panic and his need for flight. 

Then he saw glimmers of daylight ahead of him. He scurried on, 
pursued by Ponto's voice echoing from every cranny. Finally he 
clambered up the last few rock steps cut out of the cave walls, and into 
the sunlight. Ponto's voice seemed to die away into the darkness he 
had just left. He was out of breath, perspiring from every pore, and 
shaking. He had bruised his elbows, knees, and ankles. His hair had 
fallen over his eyes. 

But the sight now before him was a sudden distraction from his 
panic: the reservoir, calm, blue, unruffled, glasslike, without the 
merest ripple. And reflected in its face were the brown and gray and 
black spires and pinnacles of the surrounding land, undisturbed images 
intertwined with the greens and ashen-whites of the vegetation. It was 
a perfectly still mirror world in which the only movement came from 
the few clusters of utterly white clouds reflected from the sky. There 
was no sound whatever from the great things around him. Distance 
was telescoped. Time paused for him. 

Then, in a little inner explosion of a new panic, Jamsie noticed the 
Shadow over to his right. A tall finger of brown-gray crag jutted out of 
the cliff wall over there. The Shadow stood beneath it and out of the 
glare of the sunlight. 

Over on his left Ponto's exasperated voice called out from the cave 
mouth: "Well, if you have to do it, get on with it. Get it over with! Go 
on, Jamsie! An ideal place for it!" 

Jamsie glanced over at the Shadow. In the darkness beneath the 
crag he thought he saw a movement, like someone sighing with relief 
that the desired end was near. 

Ponto's voice struck at him again: "Go on, fool! Jump! They tell me 
it's okay now. Jump!" 

As Ponto's voice died away, the Shadow moved beneath the crag 
ever so slightly. It might have been bending forward a little in order to 
follow more closely what Jamsie was about to do. Its outline, still dim, 
became more visible in its general details. 

What Jamsie now found strange was his own lack of rage and fear. 
For the first time in three years, he felt neither. Instead, he felt that 
relief and easement of body and mind somehow akin to what you 


experience when you fill your lungs with air, after having held your 
breath to the point of suffocation. Why am I calm now? was the 
question he put himself. 

He turned his head and gazed at the Shadow, as if he knew the 
answer to that question lay in its direction. That question and others 
were agonizing. His eyes calmly bored into the darkness surrounding 
the shape. 

In the few moments before the Shadow slipped back into obscurity, 
Jamsie had enough time. The face, the head, the way it stood, all the 
details began to fall into place for his memory. The Shadow was tall, 
abnormally tall. And bulky. The body was covered in black folds. He 
could see the two arms raised at the elbows, the palms of the hands 
turned out toward him, the fingers clenching and unclenching. The 
head was lifted up, thrown back, as it were, in a fixed haughtiness, a 
resisting pride. Dimly he could make out eyes, nose, mouth. 

The shape of that face riveted Jamsie's attention. It had all the 
details of a human face. Yet it was not human. It was something else. 
Where had he seen it? That face had been with him all his conscious 
life, even in his childhood and during his teens. And from the first day 
he had taken a job. Sure, it was Ponto's face. There was something of 
his father's face there, too, the face Ara had late at night when he was 
on a "job." And others he had once seen but had now forgotten. Many 

It all took a few quick moments. As the Shadow receded noiselessly 
into the darkness beneath the crag, Jamsie became conscious of 
another element in himself. It was a tiny voice of instinct, a primal 
part of him still alive and vibrant. He knew he had seen the father of 
all man's real enemies. The Father of Lies and the ultimate adversary 
of all salvation, of any beauty, of each truth throughout the cosmos of 
God's working. 

Beneath the crag there was suddenly only darkness. Jamsie's eyes 
fell away from the Shadow's hiding place. His thoughts came back to 
the reservoir. 

He looked at the smiling calm of the waters and up to the North 
Chalone peak. He remembered what his father had said to him when 
they had looked at it together years before: someday he would climb 
all 3,305 feet of it. Waters and peak were clean — wholesome in some 
way Jamsie could not explain but did feel intensely. He could not, he 
thought to himself now, he could not soil them with his own dead and 
bloated body floating face down, its back to the peak, its juices 


polluting the water. Just the thought now made him feel uncouth, 
almost sacrilegious. 

He looked away quickly from the clear surface of the reservoir. He 
stood stock-still. His mind was blank, his eyes, unseeing. He no longer 
desired to end it all here. But he could not think either of returning to 
the increasing torture of life with Ponto. "1 have no desires at all," he 
thought helplessly. Then, as though pointing out to himself something 
he could not quite grasp, he repeated again and again: "I'm in shock. 
I'm in shock." 

Ponto broke in peevishly: "You can do nothing, desire nothing, are 
nothing — except a human wreck about to kill yourself." Then 
viciously: "You" — a long drawn-out pause — "are finished" — again the 
cruel pause — "dead already, but you don't know it." A short pause. 
Then, like a pistol shot: "Jump!" 

Jamsie did not budge, did not even shake or move. He was certain 
that Ponto lied. He knew that his will was not helpless, although he 
did not know what to do. He knew now that preserved in him was a 
deep desire stronger than any other. He felt tears coming to his eyes; 
and he knew those tears were forced from him by that deep, deep 

Alarm entered Ponto's voice again. "Jamsie! Be a man. Get it over 

Jamsie looked over his shoulder at the Shadow's hiding place. It had 
not gone. It seemed to have lost its undulating ease and draped 
complacency, to have gone rigid in some way he could not fathom. 

Then Ponto started to chant in his eunuch's voice: "Jump-uh! 
Jump-uh! Jump-uh! Jump-uh!" 

The words with their rhythmic extra beat hit Jamsie painfully as 
hailstones lashing his ears. He sought some escape, some gimmick to 
block those quick, stinging blows. 

"Jump-uh! Jump-uh! Jump-uh!" went Ponto's voice in a high, 
spiraling tone, speaking quicker and quicker. 

Jamsie's thoughts started to go awry. The torment of that voice was 
becoming too much. He remembered Father Mark and his instruc- 
tions. The trick, that was it! The trick! He began desperately spelling 
out the name of Jesus again and again: J-E-S-U-S. J-E-S-U-S. 
J-E-S-U-S. Then he ran all the letters together like an incantation — 

But now, he found, those letters and their piecemeal pronunciation 
meant more to him than a gimmick. The pain of Ponto's chanting 


diminished. Jamsie's tears flowed more sweetly, more as a relief than a 
gesture of suffering. 

The tears blurred everything as he threw one more glance at the sky 
and the water, then heard himself break the silence of all nature, 
shouting, "Father Mark! Father Mark!" He shouted the name over and 
over. The echoes came back at him from all sides, from above and 
below, Father, Father, Father . . . Mark, Mark, Mark, and died away 
over the rocks and pinnacles. 

He stepped back a little, then a little more, then some more, away 
from the edge of the reservoir. He turned back, looking toward the 
cave mouth and then at the Shadow. He realized he would have to 
pass by them both if he returned to the Monument Gate by Bear 
Gulch Caves. 

The echoes died away. The Shadow beneath the crag had dwindled 
into itself and was almost indistinguishable again from the darkness 
beneath the crag. There was no sound from Ponto. 

In the silence, Jamsie turned around and stumbled off down by the 
Moses Spring Trail, hugging the walls of the canyon. He was alone all 
the way down. The two hours of respite were welcome. When he 
arrived in full view of the parking lot, he was still saying two names, 
Jesus and Mark, over and over again to himself. 

The ranger looked up from the magazine he was reading. "Need any 
help, buddy? You look beat." 

"The phone. May I use the phone?" 

Within a few minutes Jamsie was talking with Father Mark. "Stay 
where you are, Jamsie," Father Mark told him. "Don't drive back, 
whatever you do. Wait for me." 

That evening Jamsie returned with Mark to San Francisco. They 
spoke little on the way. As they approached the rectory, Mark sensed a 
new unrest in Jamsie. 

"What is it? What's wrong?" 

"Ponto. He hasn't said a word. He hasn't appeared. I wonder 
if . . ." 

"Don't. Just don't." Mark spoke firmly. Then he added drily, "Your 
old Uncle Ponto couldn't sit in this car." 

Jamsie nodded. But he remained uneasy. 

As they entered the rectory, Jamsie was not sure if for one moment 
he had not seen Ponto inside the gateway. The shadows cast by the 
street lamps were playing against the gate pillars and seemed to be a 
rustling cover for some rigid forms towering above him, leaning 


forward in an askew fashion, watching his every move, waiting for 
some moment of their choosing. 


The case of Jamsie Z. presents us with an almost open-and-shut 
example of what used to be called "familiarization" or possession by a 
"familiar spirit" in the classical terminology of diabolic possession. I 
say "almost" because, in Jamsie Z.'s case, "familiarization" was never 
completed. Jamsie resisted, was exorcised, and the intending "familiar 
spirit" was driven out of his life. 

"Familiarization" is a type of possession in which the possessed is 
not normally subject to the conditions of physical violence, repugnant 
smells and behavior, social aberrations, and personal degeneracy that 
characterize other forms of possession. 

The possessing spirit in "familiarization" is seeking to "come and 
live with" the subject. If accepted, the spirit becomes the constant and 
continuously present companion of the possessed. The two "persons," 
the familiar and the possessed, remain separate and distinct. The 
possessed is aware of his familiar. In fact, no movement of body, no 
pain or pleasure, and no thought or memory occur that is not shared 
with the familiar. All privacy of the subject is gone; his very thoughts 
are known; and he knows continually that they are known by his 
familiar. The subject himself can even benefit from whatever pre- 
science and insight his familiar enjoys. 

Although there was a definite connection between certain events 
and traits of his childhood and the experience that culminated in his 
exorcism, it was only after the age of thirty that he was openly 
approached by a "familiar" spirit and proffered "familiarization." 
From the age of thirty-four onwards he was subjected to multiple 
forms of persuasion by the spirit calling itself Uncle Ponto. But 
Jamsie's case does illustrate many of the traits of "familiarization" and 
the inherent dangers for those who give even a token consent to 

Jamsie was born in Ossining, New York. His father, Ara, was of 
Armenian descent; his mother, Lydia, was of Greek descent. Both 
were third-generation Americans. Ara was a carpenter by trade, and 


played the clarinet in his spare time in order to earn extra money. 
Lydia belonged to a Boston family whose large fortune had been made 
in ship chandlering and on the stock market. 

Lydia saw Ara for the first time at a small evening concert in Glen 
Ridge, New York. Improbable as it seemed to her family, she fell in 
love with Ara then and there. And Ara with her. On Lydia's 
eighteenth birthday they were married, over the violent objections of 
her family. Even the threat of being disowned and cut off entirely from 
the family fortune could not stop Lydia. 

Jamsie was born one year later, in 1923. The family lived in Ossining 
for another five years. But by 1929 Ara and Lydia had decided to move 
to New York. He was not making enough money in Ossining. Lydia's 
mother and father were pestering Lydia to desert Ara and to return to 
the family with her son. New York, Ara and Lydia thought, would 
provide more work for Ara and a greater anonymity for the three of 
them. Ara had a letter of recommendation to a taxicab-fleet owner. He 
and Lydia had high hopes of success in the city. 

In October 1929 the family moved to New York, taking with them 
some blankets, kitchen utensils, Ara's clarinet, and an old family icon 
of the Virgin that Ara's father had left him in his will. They first lived 
in a three-room walk-up in Penn Street. After a year they moved to a 
two-room apartment at Lexington Avenue and 25th Street. There they 
lived until Ara died in 1939. 

Lydia, once more living in a big metropolis, wrote out a memento of 
their arrival in large black letters and hung it beside the old icon on 
their living-room wall: "Today, our first day in New York, George 
Whitney bid 204 for U. S. Steel." It hung there beside the icon for 
years; and these two objects were the center of Jamsie 's earliest 

But the golden age of New York which had begun at the end of the 
Civil War was just coming to its close, although few guessed its 
imminent collapse. New York's strength and prestige as the source of 
funds and leadership for the nation had been established in that 
64 -year period: great New York fortunes were made; famous New 
York homes were built by a Brokaw, a Dodge, a Carnegie, a 
Stuyvesant, a Whitney, a Vanderbilt, a Frick, a Harkness, the city's big 
financial district was created to sell the country all kinds of services. 
After World War I, most of New York's energies were turned toward 
Europe. But the old leadership was gone, and New York's manufaetur- 


ing declined. As one writer put it, the financial soul of New York 
"worked itself up into a lather of paper profits and then collapsed." 
Ara and Lydia arrived just in time for that collapse. 

Nevertheless, their first seven years in New York were relatively 
happy ones. Ara did not immediately use his recommendation to the 
taxicab-fleet owner. Instead, he worked as a handyman and carpenter, 
first around his own neighborhood, and then venturing down around 
Washington Square and up as far as Yorkville. Lydia at first stayed at 
home with their young child. Then, as Jamsie started parochial school, 
Lydia took a daytime job in an Armenian laundry. 

In the opinion of the present writer, the New York which Jamsie 
knew from his earliest years had something rather intangible but 
definite to do with his later experience of attempted "familiarization." 
Between 1820 and 1930, over 38 million people had immigrated to the 
United States, and a good one-sixth of these had stayed in New York. 
The doormat for those "ragged remnants" was the Lower East Side. 

New York was then a city of nearly seven million, with 25 foreign 
languages in daily use and 200 foreign-language newspapers and 
magazines to satisfy the needs of this heterogeneous population. "No 
one can become an American except by God's grace," wrote I. A. R. 
Wylie in the early 1930s. And, for the long-standing Yankee Protestant 
Establishment, New York, which was in the first third of the twentieth 
century five-sevenths Italian, Jewish, German, Irish, Hungarian, 
Armenian, Greek, Russian, Syrian, and otherwise foreign, was not 
American. The felt differences between the Establishment and the 
newly arrived was more than ethnic. The Establishment had adopted 
none of the ancient gods of the New World; they had imported their 
Christianity, which had no roots in pre-Columbian history. The 
millions of immigrants came from lands where their religion (mainly 
Christianity, with Jewish and Muslim minorities) had its roots deep in 
ancient pre-Christian cults. European and Middle Eastern pagan 
instincts were never rooted out; they were adopted, sublimated, 
purified, transmuted. In that mildewed baggage of morals, ritual 
practices, folk mores, social and familial traditions, the new Americans 
surely transported the seeds and traces of ancient, far-off powers and 
spirits which once had held sway over the Old World. 

Jamsie's childhood until he was nine passed without any serious 
disruption. Home life was orderly and secure. Mornings and evenings 
he ate with his parents. Most evenings, Ara would take out the clarinet 
and play for his wife and child. Every night, as a small child, Jamsie 


knelt with his mother in front of the ikon and said the night prayers 
she had taught him, while he looked into the wide eyes of the Virgin. 

His father took him to ball games and boxing matches. Some 
Sundays they went roller-skating down Wall Street; at other times to 
the zoo, or for nickel rides on the Staten Island ferry; and two or three 
times a year he took Jamsie for a swim in a hotel pool. In the summer 
months there were all-day outings to Coney Island. 

The three of them left New York only once. It was a week's vacation 
in San Francisco made possible by a gift of money from Lydia's 
parents. Jamsie never forgot the outings on that trip with his father, 
and their evening meals at Fisherman's Wharf, and the day's visit they 
made to Pinnacles National Monument. 

As Jamsie grew up, he gradually moved around the East Side and 
got to know and like its ethnic mix, its smells, sounds, and sights. In 
the early morning he picked his way to school past windows stuffed 
with bedding and fire escapes where people were still sleeping. As he 
wandered home, his ears were filled with the medley of dialects used 
by pushcart peddlers and shopkeepers — Tuscan, Serbian, Yiddish, 
Ruthenian, Sicilian, Croatian, Cretan, Macedonian. 

Jamsie was in his tenth year when his parents began to notice a 
strange trouble that seized him from time to time. Sometimes, among 
the clutter of plaster saints, brass pots, secondhand garments, Balkan 
stogies, mezuzahs, and other bric-a-brac that filled the shop windows, 
Jamsie caught sight of what he called a "funny-lookin' face" or "a face 
with a funny look." Then he was seized with a violent fright and 
literally fled home in a blind panic. He used to arrive white-faced and 
trembling at Lydia's side. She always knew what had happened — or so 
Jamsie thought — and she was able to calm him down and still his fears. 

As he grew older, the ' 'funny face" incidents became rarer, but they 
never totally disappeared. As a child, he was never able to describe 
that "face" to his parents. They, wisely, never insisted on details. But 
from what they could understand, it seemed the child's terror was 
caused, not by any particular ugliness in the "face," but chiefly 
because of the curious conviction Jamsie had that the "face" knew him 
personally. "It looks at me and it knows me. It does!" he used to sob to 
his mother. 

Gradually Jamsie worked out a sort of home geography for himself. 
He made many friends among the Hungarians living between 82nd 
and 73rd Streets. His father had distant relatives living there; and once 
a month or so, Jamsie visited them and was fed on goose-liver paste, 


stuffed cabbage, and chicken paprika. He skipped the neighborhood of 
the Bohunks (Czechs and Slovaks), who lived just below the Hun- 

For it was lower down on Lexington Avenue, between 30th and 
22nd Streets among the Armenians, and with the Greeks in the West 
30s and 40s that he felt at home. He spoke a little of both languages. 
His boyhood friends were there, and he was never frightened when 
with Greeks and Armenians. He never saw his "funny face" among 

In the late spring of 1937, when Jamsie was fourteen years old, Ara 
made an important decision that ended forever the happy days of 
Jamsie's childhood. Ara was not earning enough money as a handy- 
man-carpenter, so he utilized that old but carefully guarded recom- 
mendation to a taxieab-fleet owner. Very shortly afterwards, he 
became one of approximately 25,000 licensed hacks in the city. He 
drove a two-year-old Y-model Checker for Burmalee System, Inc. 
Jamsie was very proud at first of his father's cab with its silver roof and 
the black-and-white checker band running around the middle of its 
yellow body. 

Ara worked a 12-hour shift, driving approximately 50 miles a day to 
service 12 to 15 calls. On a good day he might bring home $3.00 from 
the meter and $1.25 in tips. It was no good. The constant sitting at the 
wheel, the endless war with the New York policemen, who were out to 
eliminate cruising cabs, the weariness at the end of each grueling day, 
the small earnings brought in by this labor, all produced a change in 
Ara which alienated him from Lydia and frightened Jamsie. 

He no longer played the clarinet for them in the evenings; he locked 
his "old stick/' as he called it, in a drawer of the living-room bureau. 
There were no more family outings. Instead of the occasional game of 
pinochle and hearts with some friends, he stayed out late drinking with 
other cabbies. He developed ulcers, spent two weeks in the hospital 
with kidney trouble in November 1938, and had a back condition 
before the end of the year. 

For a while, only his language grew coarser for Jamsie — "palooka" 
(a cheap fare), "high booker" (a big fare), "rips" (fares over $2), and so 
on were his father's new expressions. But matters got worse. At the 
beginning, Jamsie and Lydia took turns keeping Ara company as he 
cruised long hours in his cab. When Lydia found out that Ara had 
fallen into the easy money of occasional pimping, steering out-of-town 
clients to hotels and parlor houses for a percentage of the "take," she 


forbade Jamsie to go with Ara at night. But Jamsie, by now a boy of 
very strong will, disobeyed. 

Now and then, as he sat beside Ara in the cab, Jamsie was struck by 
some trait in his father's face. Once, while he sat in the cab late at 
night and his father was chatting on the curb with a pimp and two of 
his girls, Jamsie thought he saw that trait on all four faces as they 
laughed together as at some joke. 

The "look" did not frighten him, but it repelled him. At the same 
time he was fascinated by it. As time went on, he deliberately looked 
for it. He found, however, that he only noticed it when he did not look 
for it. It was as elusive as ever; he could not pin it down. 

At times that "look" acquired a terrible intensity. Two related 
incidents that happened in 1938 stand out in Jamsie's memory. 

With his father and some friends he had gone to see the Brooklyn 
Dodgers play. It was at a moment toward the end of the game when 
all the fans were on their feet cheering Cincinnati's Johnny Vander 
Meer, who was making baseball history by pitching his second 
successive no-hit, no-run game. Shouting and cheering like everyone 
else, Jamsie looked around at the excited crowds. And from deep in 
the middle of the faces there leaped out at him that "funny-lookin' 
face." It was looking at him. It knew him, he thought. He froze into 
silence and looked away in panic. Then he glanced back at the spot 
where he had seen it, but it was gone. All he could see were the fans 
shouting and gesticulating. 

Exactly one week later Jamsie was sitting with Ara in the cab late 
one night listening to the Louis-Schmelling fight. As the fight reached 
its climax, Ara's face became more and more contorted. In the last few 
moments leading up to Joe Louis' victory, Jamsie saw on his father's 
face a very intense look which was quickly developing into that "funny 
look." There was, again, something unhuman about it; and he could 
not catch sight of any trait which he had always associated with his 
father's beloved face. With each of Louis' blows to Schmelling, and as 
the voice of the announcer got higher and more excited, the "look" 
became more apparent on Ara's face. With the gong and Louis' 
victory, the tension broke. The strange look passed quickly, and Ara 
became normal and composed again. But Jamsie could not forget the 

As time passed, his fear of the "look" began to lessen, but his 
curiosity was greater. What was that "look"? And how was it that he 
had seen it at the ball game and then again on his own father's face, 


blotting out the kindness and love Jamsie had known there all his life 
up to that point? And what connection was there between all that and 
the "look" or "funny-lookin' face" he used to see as a child? 

Around this time the family reached a low in its fortunes and 
well-being. Ara was developing a serious drinking problem, and the 
more he drank, the less money he brought home. Lydia, at first frantic 
about their needs, finally became morose and gathered into herself. 
Her young son was beginning to grow up. She began to feel alienated 
from him and Ara. 

Jamsie had already been hired as a pageboy by NBC. He left school 
to take the position, partly in order to bring in more money to his 
home, partly with the intention of pursuing a career in radio. In the 
early days of radio, NBC hired young men as pageboys for a two-year 
apprenticeship, then graduated them to guides, and afterward trained 
them in some branch of the flourishing radio business. 

Things went from bad to worse for the family. There was no longer 
enough food in the house. Lydia was always in arrears with the rent. 
And, unknown to Jamsie but with Ara's consent, Lydia made her 
decision. Jamsie found out about it late one night in March when he 
returned from work at about 11:00 p.m. 

At home, to his surprise, he found his mother dressed in her best 
clothes. Her face was heavily made up. She was sitting in the living 
room gazing silently out the window into the night. When he came in, 
she did not turn around or say a word to him. But he knew she had 
something to tell him. As he waited, his eye was drawn to the old icon 
hanging on the wall behind Lydia. She had draped a black cloth over 
it. He looked from the ikon to his mother and back again several times 
before he understood that she was going to become one of the 
prostitutes he had seen his father introducing to clients. 

Lydia stood up then, as if she had heard him thinking. She knew he 
had realized what was happening. "I'll be late, Jamsie. Don't wait up 
for me." He said nothing. 

When she had gone, he sat down and remained there thinking for 
about two hours. He knew without a doubt what his mother had in 
mind. It was written all over her. But there was something else he now 
knew: although he was alone as far as his mother and father were 
concerned, he had the strangest feeling that he was in someone else's 
company. Finally he looked around the living room slowly and then 
through the window at the city. 


When he went to bed, he still felt deserted by his parents, but he 
was nursing some secret which he did not yet understand. 

Lydia became one of about 5,000 prostitutes in New York City. 
After a few weeks of lone-wolfing, she got herself put on the calling list 
of a parlor house in the West 40s. Jamsie got to know her routine. She 
slept during the day, rising about 5:00 p.m. If by 10:00 p.m. there were 
no calls for her from her madam, she went out for the evening. She 
worked Fifth and Madison Avenues between 43rd and 56th Streets. 
She would stop at the better bars, do some over obvious window-shop- 
ping, always on the lookout for clients. Sometimes she would give one 
of her clients a call. She worked this way until dawn. Then she 
returned home to sleep. 

After a couple of months she became a member of Polly Adler's 
parlor house on Central Park West. By that time, too, she had 
established her own list of personal clients whom she called regularly. 
When Polly Adler got into trouble with the authorities, Lydia simply 
transferred her loyalties to another madam in the West 50s. 

As Jamsie got up each morning and looked in at his mother before 
he left, he found that over the months the expression on her face was 
changing. Instead of the look he had always seen there, he might see 
various traits of that "funny-lookin' face" of his childhood terrors. But 
now there was no terror. Rather, he began to feel a strange kinship 
with the look. 

With the passage of time, Lydia noticed the difference in Jamsie's 
reaction to her, and they established a new respect for each other. 

Ara, in the meantime, still driving for Burmalee System, Inc., had 
tried to move in as a steerer for crap games in the 49th Street and 
Broadway area. But the territory was already controlled, and the 
incumbents let him know in no uncertain terms that there was no 
room for him. Then he went deep into the numbers racket and illegal 
horse betting. In those times, about one million illegal bets were 
placed each day in New York. There was money to be made. As a 
numbers agent, he got ten percent of the take on each bet handed over 
to the collector. In time he himself became a collector, delivering bets 
to the central "policy" bank. 

Finally Ara found a source of easy money in drug traffic. There were 
between 20,000 and 25,000 heroin addicts in New York of the 1930s; 
and opium dens flourished on Mott and Pell Streets, as well as in 
Harlem, Times Square, and San Juan Hill. Diluted heroin was sold at 


$16 to $20 an ounce. A "toy," or small tin box of opium, sold for about 
$10 on the street. Reefers fetched 50^ each, or two for 254; in Harlem. 

In the beginning Ara merely bought reefers in Harlem which he sold 
at a profit downtown. Then he became a runner, transporting the little 
packets strapped beneath his armpits. There were times during these 
months when Ara — and less frequently Lydia — were so changed in 
their faces and so "funny-looking" to Jamsies eyes that some of his old 
fears returned momentarily. 

Ara had begun to build up a clientele and make some money in the 
traffic of narcotics when he seemed suddenly to go to pieces. He 
became gaunt and thin. His moods were unbearable in their rages and 
black depressions. 

One evening, a rainy Friday late in December 1939, Ara arrived 
home drenched to the skin. He had been up for three days and three 
nights. His teeth were chattering. He drank more than usual. He 
coughed up blood during the night. The next morning, Lydia had not 
come home, and Ara was in a high fever. All the strain of seven years 
suddenly broke him. 

Jamsie called old Dr. Schumbard finally. He said Ara was dying of 
tuberculosis. Ara refused to go into the hospital. There was nothing 
Jamsie could do. 

The next few days were a nightmare. Lydia did not come for the 
entire weekend. Ara's fever could not be reduced. He was frequently 
delirious and drank when he was not. Jamsie finally went out and 
scoured all his mother's haunts until he found her. Together, they 
watched over Ara, waiting for the end. 

While he was sitting one evening by himself at Ara's bedside after 
Lydia had gone out for a while, Jamsie had the feeling again of 
someone being near him. It was not unpleasant and not at all 
frightening. He recalls that his feeling was more or less pleasurable, as 
if a friend or confidant had come to be with him when he had no one 
else. The sensation did not last all the time, and it varied in intensity. 

About eight days after he had collapsed, Ara suddenly sat up in bed 
one morning and started to scream at the top of his voice: "I want my 
old stick! You hear! All of you! My old stick. Just a few more hot licks! 
I want my old stick!" His face was bathed in that "look." 

Jamsie and Lydia tried to hold him down, but Ara fought them off. 
He scrambled out of bed in his bloodstained nightshirt, hobbled into 
the living room, unlocked the drawer where he had hidden his 
clarinet. He took it out of its case and screwed on the mouthpiece. 


"Just a few more hot licks before we kick the bucket, hen!" 
gibbered Ara, spittle drooling from the corners of his mouth. The silver 
stops of the clarinet twinkled in the sunlight. 

"Me old stick!" Jamsie heard him mumble. 

Ara blew a few uncertain notes, tried some scales, went into a few 
bars of the upper register, then low down, all the time gaining fullness 
of tone and sureness. 

As Jamsie and his mother watched, Ara began to adlib some blues. 
He tottered and stumbled unsteadily around the room, scraping over 
the worn carpet, bumping into furniture. He paused for a moment in 
front of Lydia's handwritten memento and cackled at it derisively. 
Then, playing again, he stumbled away and then back, until he stood 
looking at the old icon still covered with the black cloth. His face got 
serious. There was silence for a second. Jamsie remembers holding his 
mother's hand in anguish as they both watched Ara. 

Then Ara played the first bars of an old Armenian hymn to the 
Virgin. He started to sway back and forth. Lydia and Jamsie both 
moved quickly to help him, but they were too late. Trailing off in the 
middle of his song, he doubled over, coughed violently, and fell 
forward, clawing the air for support. His hand caught the black drape 
over the icon, and it came away as he fell. 

When they reached him, he was on his back, the black drape 
clutched in one hand, the clarinet in the other. Above him, the icon 
glimmered in the morning light with its old gold, blue, and brown 
colors. For the first time in many years, Jamsie looked at the tranquil 
eyes of the Virgin. 

Then he looked at his father's face, and a weight was lifted off him. 
In death the "look" had gone. Ara's features had returned to 
something resembling what they had been ten years before. Jamsie 
never forgot that change at his father's death. He still could not 
understand the "look," but he was glad for Ara that it had gone. Ara 
was buried in Brooklyn's Greenwood to sleep with the other 400,000 
people already there. 

The following week Lydia told her son he was on his own. Except 
for two visits, Jamsie was not to be with her again until her death in 
1959. As he walked up Broadway that day of parting with his mother, 
all he heard were Lydia's words: "You're on your own now." 

The old el had been torn down; and they were starting the 6th 
Avenue subway. Jamsie stood for a long time watching the workmen. 
A flood of resentment took hold of him. They were spending $65 


million on that subway, he had read in the newspaper. But his own 
father was dead, his mother was an aging prostitute, and he had been 
helpless to change any of that. It all made no sense. 

A curious new feeling was building up in him. Without moving, 
without seeing anything different or hearing an ethereal voice, he felt 
as if an alternative to his misery of loneliness was being offered him. It 
was accompanied by fear. But he experienced also the same strange 
sense of companionship as on the night he first knew his mother would 
be a prostitute. He was alone, but he was not really alone. He felt the 
loss of his father very deeply. He had deep misgivings for his mother's 
well-being. Yet both of them slipped into the background of his mind. 
In the forefront was this new, unsettling, but rather welcome feeling of 
being wanted, of not being really alone. 

In that moment, for the first time, he was certain that there was, 
indeed, some presence, someone or something present to him, and that 
to accept it meant renouncing any genuine love for his father and 
mother as he had known them in childhood and early youth. 

In 1940 Jamsie was promoted to guide at NBC. Then, on the 
invitation of a very close friend of his father, he went to live and study 
in Oklahoma City. The friend provided him with enough money to 
follow courses in journalism and broadcasting; he did part-time work 
to supplement his income. 

The years in Oklahoma City were tranquil ones for Jamsie. There 
was no recurrence of the "funny look." He rarely had a sense of the 
strange presence, and he formed some solid friendships. 

He moved back to New York in 1946, at the age of twenty-three, 
and started to build a career in radio. Outside work, he lived a quiet 
life. He spent most of his time either at home listening to records and 
reading, or wandering the streets of midtown and lower Manhattan. 

He always hoped he would find his mother. Nobody in her old 
haunts seemed to know where she was or what had happened to her. 
Eventually word reached him from an old family friend that she was 
living in Flushing. He had one long visit with her there. 

Lydia was much deteriorated. There was still a deep feeling 
between them; but both felt and tacitly decided that, except for some 
serious personal crisis, they should see each other rarely. Meeting was 
too painful. 

At the same time, Jamsie was also engaged in a search of a very 
different kind. Once he set foot in New York again, he caught glimpses 


of that ''look" — in the subway, from the middle of crowds, aloft among 
the neon signs, in movie houses, and sometimes late at night, before he 
went to bed and when he stood looking out the window at the lights of 

And he now felt something else that was new and, in its own way, 
reassuring: a violent and unconquerable persuasion that he had always 
known what "it" was, who "it" was. His old fright was transformed 
into an insatiable urge to remember. If he could only remember what 
"it" was. 

Sometimes, in off-moments, he seemed to be on the verge of 
realizing what or who "it" was, of recalling the place and the time 
when he had been told about it. He could not shake the idea that he 
had been told about it. 

But his efforts always ended in frustration. Just as names and places 
were about to rush into his mind and to his lips, something would 
happen inside him, and he would lose his grip on them. His frustration 
at this continual defeat began to produce a rage in him. 

Jamsie had one last meeting with Lydia. She had moved from 
Flushing to lower Broadway. During those few hours he spent with 
her, all his rage and frustration was dissipated. Lydia, by now living on 
church welfare, spoke to him slowly and quietly about his father and 
about his own future. This was the last experience of human 
tenderness Jamsie was to have for many years. Later he left word of his 
whereabouts with the local precinct and the church authorities who 
helped Lydia, promising to keep them posted of any change in his 
address. He kept that promise. 

It was during this period of Jamsie 's life that his colleagues at the 
radio station began to notice that he talked to himself; even more 
oddly, he occasionally flew into solitary rages. Of course, the moment 
Jamsie realized other people were watching, he became a very amiable 
and smiling man, to compensate for any unpleasant impression he 
might have given. Yet, time and time again, he could be seen walking 
alone on the streets or in the corridors of the radio station, or standing 
in the washroom, his eyes wide and staring, his nostrils flaring, and his 
lips drawn back over his teeth as if in some deep, internal, 
all-absorbing effort. 

After two years in New York, Jamsie was transferred to Cleveland. 
Here he had his first paralyzing dose of what became commonplace in 
his life a few years later. 

One evening he was walking down Euclid Avenue on his way home. 


All day his mind had been opening and closing on the endless puzzle: 
when and where had he been told about "it," about that "look"? Since 
his arrival in Cleveland, all appearances of the "look" had ceased. But 
this only seemed to increase his curiosity and his need to know the 
answer. Tonight, it seemed to him, he was very near to recalling 

As he walked on, memories and words began to gather up out of a 
deep darkness of recollection and slowly to take shape. He was almost 
craning forward as he peered within himself with profound intensity to 
catch them. He began to feel excited, as he felt a growing realization 
that this was the moment. 

Suddenly, just as he was about to see those images and say those 
words, the words and pictures — as he describes it — seemed to form 
themselves into a long, quickly moving stream and "floated like 
lightning" out of the top of his head and up into the sky. It had all 
escaped him! 

He jumped up and down on the pavement in frustration, looking up 
at the night sky with tears in his eyes. Then, when he saw nothing up 
there but clouds, he turned away and went dejectedly toward the 
small restaurant where he normally took his supper. 

At the door of the restaurant he stopped in astonishment. It was too 
much! There, at the back of the dining room, among the crowded 
tables and chatting people, he saw a face with that "look." He pushed 
his way past waiters and packed tables. But when he reached the place 
where the "face" had been, he found two staid people, an aging man 
and woman, eating their dinner in stony silence. They looked at him 
briefly and disinterestedly, then went on eating. 

From that moment, Jamsie was convinced that somebody or 
something was playing hide-and-seek with him. But he could not figure 
out how it was all done or why. It became frequent in his daily life for 
words and memories to behave like the floating lightning and to "dive" 
out of his skull. Sometimes he saw them silhouetted against the sky 
before they disappeared far, far up into the clouds; sometimes they 
went so fast he could not catch sight of them at all. 

In successive years and at various stations where he worked 
(Detroit, 195 1; New Orleans, 1953; Kansas City, 1955; Los Angeles, 
1956), the story was always the same. He tried once to explain it all to 
a psychiatrist in Los Angeles, but he found the sessions with him 
unproductive and infuriating. 

He had one friendship with a woman in Kansas City that might have 


become serious. But one evening, only a few weeks after they had 
begun dating, Jamsie treated her to such an uncontrolled exhibition of 
rage, frustration, and jealousy that she broke up with him then and 

Just about a year after his transfer to Los Angeles, he had his first 
face-to-face meeting with the source of his trouble. He lived in 
Alhambra at the time, and drove each day to the radio station. 

One evening, as he drove home in the dusk, he again sensed that 
curious presence for the fourth time in his life. The car radio was 
playing a medley of songs. Suddenly, as "California, Here I Come!" 
was being sung, the words seemed to plaster themselves all around the 
sky in front of him. He had already had a lot of crazy things like this in 
his life, and, while he could not ignore it, he could cope with it. As 
"California, Here I Come!" continued to plaster itself around him, 
Jamsie switched off the radio. 

Then something caught his eye in the rearview mirror. It was a face. 

As with so many of the strange things that kept happening to him, 
Jamsie felt neither fright nor surprise. He seemed to himself to have 
expected it, to have known it was there all along. The eyes of that face 
were looking at him and he knew — without knowing how — that he 
knew their owner. 

There were no more words floating or plastered around him now. 
Jamsie slowed down, waiting all the time in silence. But there was no 
sound and no movement from the back seat. 

He glanced again in the mirror: the large, bulbous eyes were still 
looking at him. He could not believe they were really red. Must be the 
reflection of the street lights, he thought. The face had a nose, ears, 
mouth, cheeks, a funny chin much too narrow for the rest of the face, a 
kind of high-domed forehead ending in a somewhat pointed head. The 
skin was dark as if from long exposure to sunlight. He could not make 
out if it was white or brown or black-skinned. 

But something more than the vividness of that face puzzled 
him — the absence of something. The face was certainly alive — the 
eyes glinted with meaning, even laughingly. The head moved silently 
now and then. But something was lacking, something he expected in a 
face, but which this face did not show. 

As he turned slowly into the driveway to his garage, he heard a 
voice, chiding and familiar, in tones he would expect a eunuch to 
have: "Oh! For Pete's sake, Jamsie! Stop acting the fool. We've been 
together for years. Don't tell me you don't know me." 


Jamsie realized that this too was somehow or other true: they had 
been together for a long time. Everything, even this, had the same 
curious familiarity about it. 

As the car came to a standstill in the garage, he heard the voice 
again: "Well, so long, Jamsie! See you tomorrow. Wait for your Uncle 

As Jamsie entered the house, he thought he smelled a strange odor. 
At the time he connected it in no way with Uncle Ponto. It was a 
momentary thing, and he forgot about it immediately. 

This happened on a Monday evening. He could not sleep that night. 
And, although he did not know it then, Ponto 's visits would multiply 
quickly until, for six years, he would be dealing with Uncle Ponto 
almost on a daily basis. 

The following Sunday Jamsie was driving the short distance to 
Pasadena when out the window to his right he saw Ponto craning his 
head down from the roof of the car looking in at him upside down 
through the window. Ponto was moving his left hand as though 
pitching a ball, and with each gesture he seemed to throw a word, a 
phrase, or a whole sentence into the sky where it remained for a while 
and then danced away over the horizon. 

"WELCOME TO JAMSIE MY FRIEND!" ran one message. 

And so it went. Accordingly as Ponto threw each message into the 
sky, he turned back and grinned at Jamsie. When Jamsie swerved 
dangerously because of the distraction, Ponto shook his finger in mock 
reproof and flung a "LET ME DRIVE YOU!" sign across the sky. 
Then he disappeared. 

This was the flamboyant beginning of Uncle Ponto's attendance on 
Jamsie: Uncle Ponto, the spirit that was to harass him for years, finally 
press his claims to be Jamsie's "familiar," and twice drive him to the 
edge of suicide. 

Gradually Jamsie got to know Ponto's general appearance. But he 
never saw him whole from head to foot at any one time. Ponto's face, 
the back of his head, his hands, his feet, his eyes, all were parts of 
Ponto he saw from time to time. To Jamsie's eye, somehow accus- 
tomed before the fact to all these bizarre happenings, Ponto was not 
misshapen, yet Jamsie knew that Ponto was hardly shaped like a 


normal human being. And then there was that funny lack in Ponto's 
face. Something was lacking. 

His head was too large and too pointed, the eyelids, too heavy, the 
nose and mouth always contorted by an expression Jamsie could not 
identify with any emotion or attitude known to him. The skin was too 
light to be black, too dark to be white, too reddish to be sallow, too 
yellow to be sunburned. His hands were more like mechanical claws. 
His body — seen in parts — seemed to have the flexibility of a cat and to 
be thinner than his enormous, pointed head. His legs were bandy and 
disproportionate — one knee seemed higher than the other. Ponto's feet 
were splayed, like a duck's, and all the toes were of even length and 
the same size. 

Jamsie was sure Ponto was not human. Beyond that, he was sure of 
nothing except that Ponto was real — as real as any object or person 
around him. What Ponto did was real and concrete. So, for Jamsie, he 
had to be real. At the same time, Jamsie again and again found himself 
wondering why he was not frightened by Ponto. And occasionally he 
did ask himself if Ponto was a spirit or a being from another planet. 
But in the beginning each appearance of Ponto merely fired his 

After a while Jamsie realized that he could anticipate an appearance 
of Ponto by the queer smell he had noticed the first night; and, when 
Ponto disappeared, the smell lingered on afterward for about an hour. 
It was not a bad smell, as of sewage or rotting food. It was just a very 
strong smell; it had a trace of musk in it, but laced with a certain 
pungency. Jamsie could only describe it as the way "red would smell, 
if you could smell red." 

The smell always gave Jamsie a feeling of being alone with 
something overwhelming. In other words, the effect of the smell was 
not primarily in his nose but in Jamsie's mind. It did not repel, did not 
attract, did not disgust, did not fascinate. It made him feel very small 
and insignificant. And this bothered Jamsie more than all the other odd 

As far as he could calculate, Ponto's overall height was about 4% 
feet. Yet whenever Ponto appeared to him, he seemed to be the mirror 
image of something gargantuan hovering nearby, and in some 
confusing way the smell was tied closely to that sense of nearness of 
overwhelming size. If Jamsie felt any personal threat at that stage, it 
had to do with the effects of that smell. 


At the end of his "visits," and just before he disappeared, Ponto took 
to giving Jamsie a questioning look out of the corner of his eye, as if to 
say: Aren't you going to ask me about myself? Jamsie, naturally 
stubborn, resolved not to ask, not even to notice this gesture of 
Ponto — if he could bring that off. 

Ponto kept on appearing at the oddest places. Since his first, chiding 
words to Jamsie, and except for the words he flung, floated, and 
plastered all over Jamsie's horizon, Ponto never said anything in these 
early visits. He appeared in the back of the car, sitting on the radiator 
in the living room, inside the elevator in the upper corner, swinging 
from one of the overpasses as Jamsie traveled on the freeway, in 
restaurants, on top of the cash registers, at Jamsie's desk in the studio, 
on top of the engineer's table in full view of Jamsie as he sat in the 
sound-room broadcasting. 

Ponto pushed swinging doors in the opposite direction to Jamsie. He 
placed money on the counter of the delicatessen to pay for Jamsie's 
groceries, ripped the dry cleaner's plastic bags, turned on faucets, 
turned off the ignition of his car, switched on the headlights, and in a 
thousand ways kept a regular — though, for the first few months of 
1958, not a frequent — reminder of his presence in front of Jamsie. 

During the early months of 1958 Ponto never interfered with 
Jamsie's work, he rarely appeared in his apartment, and he never 
bothered him at night. In fact, Jamsie found he could sleep all night 
undisturbed. He had a feeling Ponto was somewhere near watching 
him — or perhaps watching over him; he did not know which. After a 
while, the bizarre antics began wearing on Jamsie and whittling his 
patience and control very thin. Jamsie became convinced that he had 
seen Ponto somewhere else or had known somebody very like Ponto in 
previous years, though surely he would not have forgotten so odd a 
figure as that little fellow! 

Finally Jamsie's patience wore out, and his curiosity — certainly 
understandable in the fantastic circumstances — led him to his greatest 
mistake with Ponto. He yielded to an impulse one day and asked Ponto 
what he wanted. Ponto at that precise moment was swinging from the 
lamp in Jamsie's office. 

"Oh, just to be with you, Jamsie! I thought you'd never ask! Actually 
I want to be your friend. Did you ever know anyone as faithful and as 
attendant on you as I am?" 

Then he swung away into nothingness. 

Jamsie's innocent question opened floodgates. He now became the 


object of a continual barrage from Ponto that went on week after 
week. There would be no letup for years. 

Ponto would start talking the moment Jamsie left his apartment to 
drive to work. Most of his conversation was harmless and inane, 
sometimes unintentionally funny, more often ludicrous, and quite 
often with a twist to his remarks that caused Jamsie some inner 

For a long time Jamsie kept himself under control; but he lost his 
temper with Ponto for the first time when he sprinkled one of his 
conversations with jibes about Lydia and crude remarks about the 
female hyena! Jamsie fell into a frothing rage with Ponto, telling him in 
a series of profanities to leave his mother out of the conversation and 
to get out of his sight and hearing. 

"Okay, Jamsie. Okay!" Ponto said resignedly. "Okay. Have it your 
way. But we belong to each other." He disappeared. 

The experience left Jamsie shaking with rage. But, after a couple of 
hours, restored to the normal world of his work, and being reasonable, 
he began to ask himself seriously if he were not imagining it all. He 
was sitting at his microphone waiting for a commercial to end and the 
signal from his engineer to take up his broadcast. 

As if to answer his inner thoughts, Ponto appeared and began 
plastering short words on the notice board the engineer used to pass 
silent messages to Jamsie when he was on the air. "FORGIVEN!" it 
read. "BACK SOON! CARRY ON, PAL!" In spite of himself, Jamsie 
saw the twisted humor of it all, although he doubted that Ponto was 
bright enough to be funny. Ponto was doing what came natural to him. 
Jamsie found himself grinning at the engineer, who, taken by surprise 
by this show of geniality on Jamsie's part, grinned back at him 

Ponto's conversations, except for some of the bits and scraps 
reported here and dictated to me by Jamsie, escape Jamsie's memory 
now. They were nearly always inconsequential and only sometimes 
annoying to the point of making Jamsie fall into a fit of anger. But, 
because he answered Ponto sometimes or made comments on Ponto's 
behavior — all this under his breath — the people at the station 
accepted the fact that Jamsie Z. "talks to himself a lot" and, as one put 
it, "is a little looney on certain points — but aren't we all?" 

In spite of everything, things went well for Jamsie's career. In fact, 
Jamsie's reporting was good and his ratings were high. 

In August 1959, news arrived that Lydia had died in her sleep. 


Jamsie returned to New York for a couple of days to wind up her 
affairs. Lydia had made a will by which Jamsie, the sole heir, received 
two possessions: the old icon and Lydia's handwritten memento of 
George Whitney's bid of 204 for U. S. Steel. Jamsie brought them both 
back to Los Angeles and placed them in a closet where Ponto had the 
habit of making himself comfortable. Ponto objected to the icon very 
strongly, but Jamsie was adamant. 

"Okay, pal. Okay. Okay," Ponto said. "But some day we'll get rid of 
that useless garbage. Won't we, pal?" 

In the fall of i960, Jamsie was offered and accepted a very good 
radio spot in San Francisco. He moved up from Los Angeles, and after 
he had settled into his new apartment, Jamsie arranged to drive over 
and meet his new station manager. 

"Jamsie, the hour of decision is approaching." Ponto, of course, had 
come to San Francisco. He was balancing at the moment on the fire 
escape outside the apartment house and talking through the window. 
Jamsie said nothing. 

"Jamsie! Promise me! No sex and no booze! You hear? Jamsie! 
Promise your old Uncle Ponto. Come on, pal, promise!" 

Curiously Jamsie had never touched a woman since his days in 
Cleveland. Somehow, all desire had left him after that first experience 
of words escaping like lightning from his skull. 

"Actually," Ponto tittered ridiculously, "I don't expect much 
trouble from you along that line. Hee! Hee!" 

Jamsie glared at him for a second, then continued with his 
preparations to go out. 

It was in what Ponto said next that Jamsie heard the strange note of 
urgency that sometimes overloaded Ponto's eunuch's voice. 

"Now we all have our place, you hear? And I can't appear as often 
as I like, and as often as I have in the past. I have my betters, too, 
y'know. You won't believe it, but I have." 

On the way to the radio station, Ponto, riding in the back seat, 
seemed to be seized with a sort of hysteria. His speech started to come 
faster and faster and to be deteriorating. Finally he no longer made 
any sense at all. He prattled on about lasers and roast chicken and 
whisky and the moon. Jamsie only recollects phrases such as "Jupiter 
rotates every 9 hours and 55 minutes." "Car necking, masturbation, 
and good grades." "Hurrah for the Golden Gate but don't go near the 
water!" "Its cheer creak." 

Jamsie drew up at the station, left his car, and started to make his 


way in. Ponto went along, prattling incoherently all the while. Jamsie 
rang the bell at the front gate, but no one answered. He wandered to 
the back. Still Ponto kept talking, his words utterly meaningless. 
Jamsie tried the back door. It was locked. He was about to return to 
the front when, without warning, there was silence. Ponto had 
disappeared. In retrospect, Jamsie is certain that any sudden disap- 
pearance of Ponto meant the approach of someone Ponto feared. 

"Are you looking for someone?" A balding man in his mid-fifties, 
tallish, thin, wearing rimless spectacles, had come out from a side door 
Jamsie had not noticed, and stood looking at him with his head cocked 
to one side. 

"I'm coming to work here," Jamsie answered easily. 'Tm looking for 
the station manager." 

"You must be Jamsie Z.," said the man. "I'm the station manager. 
Beedem's the name. Jay Beedem." 

Jamsie shook hands and took in Beedem's features. He thought for a 
second he might have met Beedem before. He could not quite tie it 

"Come in and let's get acquainted." 

As they sat across from one another in Beedem's office, Jamsie 
scrutinized his new boss, trying to place him. Beedem meanwhile put 
Jamsie a few questions and then proceeded to fill him in on his future 
work at the station. He was a precise man, obviously, and neat almost 
to a fault — shining bald head, carefully groomed side hair, immacu- 
lately clean and tasteful clothes, slightly foppish, good teeth, masculine 
hands with well-manicured nails. His face was roughly an oval shape 
not very lined for his age. But his eyes and mouth attracted Jamsie's 
particular attention. 

After about a quarter of an hour of conversation, Jamsie concluded 
that his boss's eyes were completely closed to him. Jay Beedem 
laughed, glanced, conveyed meanings, and questioned him with his 
eyes, but all this seemed to be as revealing as images skipping across a 
film screen. There is no feeling there, thought Jamsie to himself. No 
real feeling. At least, I can't see any. Each smile and laugh was only on 
Beedem's mouth. He did not seem really smiling or laughing. 

Jamsie really does not have any fully satisfying answers about Jay 
Beedem, even today. In retrospect, he will still say that the vague 
impression he had of having seen Beedem's face before he met him in 
the flesh came from the traits of that "funny-lookin' face" reflected in 
Beedem's face. In fact, one important element of the exorcism, 


recorded on the tape, has to do with the strange face of Beedem and 
the "look." 

Ponto always kept in the background when Beedem was with 
Jarnsie. And whenever Jamsie approached Beedem for a discussion or 
for help or encouragement, he left Beedem in the same sort of inner 
torment and turmoil that gripped him during his worst moments with 
Ponto. The keynote of that turmoil was panic, the panic of someone 
finding himself trapped or ambushed or betrayed. 

While it remains speculation, a very good case can be made for Jay 
Beedem being one of the perfectly possessed, a person who at some 
time in his career made one clear, definitive decision to accept 
possession, who never went back on that decision in any way, and who 
came under the total control of an evil spirit. It was on this very 
suspicion that, in the exorcism, Father Mark felt he must try to see if 
there was some link between Beedem and Ponto that was harmful to 

But when Jamsie left Beedem that first day, all the problems he still 
speculates about today were then in the future. Over the next days 
and weeks he settled easily into a daily routine. He loved San 
Francisco. He liked his new post. He got on well with his fellow 
workers; they respected his abilities and he never let them down 
professionally. He had pleasant relations with Cloyd, his producer, and 
with Lila Wood, the chief researcher on Cloyd's staff. With Jay 
Beedem his relations were correct and formal. But as time went on 
Beedem made no secret of his growing dislike and contempt for 
Jamsie's peculiarities. 

Their colleagues, who noticed the ill-feeling between the two men, 
put the whole thing down to a difference in temperament between 
them: they just did not get on well together. Everyone else easily 
forgave Jamsie's idiosyncrasies, for he had developed a broadcasting 
style all his own, "and it was good for business." Jamsie was not slow 
to recognize that he had Ponto to thank for much of that. 

Uncle Ponto would gyrate around him in the studio saying irrelevant 
things only Jamsie could hear. He would produce statistics, figures, 
facts, and data which Jamsie would automatically incorporate into his 
patter of broadcasting, keeping up an incredible stream of banter. It 
was bright and amusing, a cheery-beery-bee kind of prattle full of 
various irrelevancies about this, that, and the other, all strung together 
with "but" and "whereas" and "lest I forget it" and "as the actress 


said to the bishop" and "let me tell you before you forget you ever 
heard me talk," until after about three minutes he would throw in a 
punch line about a product he was advertising or a ball game he was 
reporting or some bit of national news the station wanted to highlight. 
This style became his signature, well known and valued, on the air. 
For the first few months in San Francisco, therefore, Jamsie secretly 
valued Ponto's presence. 

It was only after a protracted period that he saw the first sign of real 
trouble. On his way home one evening Ponto, on the back seat of the 
car, said: "Jamsie, let's get married." 

Taking this as just a part of Ponto's usual nonsensical prattle — of 
which there was always quite a lot in those days — Jamsie thought 
Ponto would prattle on to something else if he kept quiet. But Ponto 
was serious, and he said so. 

"Jamsie! I'm serious. Let's get married." 

Goose pimples started on Jamsie's arms and legs. For the first time, 
Jamsie began to be seriously afraid of Ponto. He drove on in silence, 
but his mind was full of a new apprehension. 

The next day in the station cafeteria Jamsie was joined at the table 
by Lila Wood, Cloyd's researcher. Ponto was somewhere among the 
coffee urns, gazing quietly at Jamsie. Lila, like others, had noticed 
Jamsie's deep depression that day. But, as she says, she also sensed the 
grain of fear running through him. 

Knowing better than to tackle Jamsie head-on, she said lightly as she 
rose after lunch: "Wanta share a steak tonight with a friend and me?" 

It was the first time in a long while that anyone had approached 
Jamsie so nonchalantly. He had become accustomed to people 
avoiding him socially. He looked at Lila in disbelief. But Lila knew 
how to deal with the situation. "Okay," she said as she turned away 
smiling. "See you at 5:30." 

Jamsie stared after her. Her voice, or something in her voice, 
affected him. As he said afterward, "It was like a short chord of 
beautiful harmony struck in between the squalling of 200 squabbling 
cats and ten jackhammers all going at the same time." 

But his reverie lasted a short time. Ponto's voice broke in with a new 
sharpness. "I heard all that. Heard all of it. That smelly young bitch. 
Do you know her friend? You will. I do! A balding pig. That's him. 
Isn't man enough to get between her legs even." 

For just a few moments Jamsie felt impervious to Ponto's corroding 


accents, and it was a very great relief. He just smiled at Ponto. Ponto's 
face twisted in anger; and, with a sort of a leap backward and upward, 
he disappeared. 

Immediately Jamsie felt a solid lump of agony within him. This was 
something new. It started somewhere around his middle. Then it 
moved to his spine. One spike of pain hit his coccyx, another pierced 
his testicles, a third prodded up through his spinal column; and from 
the nape of his neck it seemed to branch outward in two directions. 
One stream invaded his lungs. He grew short of breath and felt dizzy. 
Another stream reached upward into his skull and gripped his brain, as 
though contracting it. He remained sitting for a few minutes, his chin 
in his hand, waiting. It passed. 

As he stood up, he heard Ponto's voice. "You see, pal! You see! You 
already belong to me in great part. Watch it tonight!" Ponto was not 
visible, but the smell was there. 

That evening Jamsie went home with Lila. She had just prepared 
three steaks when her friend rang at the front door. Jamsie opened the 
door to a stoutish man, completely bald, whose blue eyes looked at 
him with an expression of good humor. 

"I'm Father Mark, Lila's friend. You must be Jamsie. She told me 
about you. Glad to see you." 

As Jamsie found out, Lila had an ulterior motive for the invitation. 
Before the evening was out, Jamsie was talking freely to Mark. Mark 
seemed to know all about Ponto's behavior. The only thing he did not 
know was Ponto's name; and when Jamsie told him, he gave a short 
little laugh and said: "Good God! I thought I'd heard them all. 
But— Ponto! God!" 

The two men made an appointment to meet the following evening. 
Mark even promised he would make some of his own special 
mushroom soup for which he was so well known among his friends. 

After that mushroom soup dinner at Mark's rectory, Jamsie told 
Mark his life story, omitting nothing. Mark listened in silence, puffing a 
long church warden's pipe that reeked of tar, and interrupting now 
and again with a question. 

It was past midnight when Jamsie finished. Mark put down his pipe, 
reflected a little while in silence, and looked at Jamsie speculatively. 
The silence was not uncomfortable for Jamsie. Then Mark spent the 
next hour telling Jamsie what he thought of the whole matter. 

Jamsie, according to Mark, was the object of an evil spirit's 
attentions. There were hundreds — and, for all Mark knew, perhaps 


millions and trillions — of different spirits. "You don't number spirits as 
you number human beings," Mark told him. He explained that in his 
experience, which was considerable, it appeared that each kind of 
spirit had its own characteristics and techniques of approaching 
humans. However, a certain kind of spirit — not a very important 
one — always sought to become a "familiar" of some human being, 
man, woman, or child. Rarely — but it did happen — did a "familiar" 
spirit possess an animal. 

What was a "familiar"? Jamsie wanted to know. Mark explained 
that the key to the "familiarity" which such a spirit sought to obtain 
lay in this: the person in question consented to a total sharing of his or 
her consciousness and personal life with the spirit. 

Mark gave an example. Normally, when you are walking around, 
eating, working, washing yourself, talking, you are conscious of 
yourself as distinct from others. Now supposing you were conscious of 
yourself and of another self all the time, like Siamese twins but inside 
your own head and in your consciousness. And supposing that the two, 
so to speak, shared your consciousness. It's your self-consciousness, 
your awareness of yourself, and at the same time, it's the conscious- 
ness, the awareness of that other self. Both at the same time. No 
getting away from one another. "Its" thoughts use your mind, but they 
are not your thoughts, and you know that. "Its" imagination likewise. 
And "its" will also. And you are aware of all this constantly, for as long 
as you are conscious of yourself. That was the familiarity Mark was 
talking about. 

Jamsie was aghast. "My God," he says now, "I had already gone 
down that road, at least part of the way. I didn't know what to do. I 
was lost!" 

Mark answered Jamsie's panic. He was not lost. He had never 
consented to full possession by the "familiar." He had just been 
invaded. But he was going to be more and more pressured to accept 
full "familiarity." 

What could happen? Jamsie wanted to know. 

"You can be worn down," Mark said quietly. "You can be taken. 
Like any of us. You're up against a force more powerful than you can 
ever hope to be yourself." 

Then Mark looked Jamsie straight in the eye and asked him directly 
if he wanted to undergo Exorcism. 

Strangely, Jamsie was speechless. Then slowly he asked in great 
concern: "Would that mean Ponto would never return?" 


Mark told Jamsie that, if the exorcism were successful, Ponto would 
be gone forever. He concentrated his attention on Jamsie's every move 
and reaction. He was only now beginning to be able to measure how 
far Ponto had extended his hold on Jamsie. 

"Well," he said finally, with a great effort to appear relaxed, "what 
is it going to be? Do you think we should go as far as that?" He did not 
want to send Jamsie off half-crazed with fear. 

Jamsie was confused. Memories of his loneliness and his having been 
deserted by his parents crowded his mind. Was this Ponto affair as bad 
as Mark made it out to be? Couldn't he keep Ponto at a distance 
anyway, and still enjoy the exotic character of the whole affair? 
Besides, wouldn't he lose some of that verve as a broadcaster that was 
now his great asset? 

Mark chatted with Jamsie for a while about all this. He poured them 
both another drink. Jamsie was not ready to accept Exorcism. Mark 
had to wait for Jamsie. 

Very earnestly Mark gave Jamsie some practical advice. The whole 
point, he said, was to resist invasion. Enjoy — if that was the word, 
Mark said wryly — Ponto's antics and his stimulation, but resist 
invasion, Mark insisted. For instance, if Jamsie were to feel a strange 
grip on his mind, memory, and imagination, and he was not able to 
resist it, he should adopt a simple trick in order to offset such a "grip": 
spell the name of Jesus out letter by letter, over and over. It was this 
stratagem that was to save Jamsie from suicide at the reservoir later 

When Jamsie asked if he could use any other name, Mark said with 
a laugh that he could, but that he would find only that name effective. 
Mark explained the essence of Exorcism — what it meant, and its 
effects in the possessed. Finally Mark told Jamsie to call him: "Night 
or day. Wherever I am, wherever you are, whenever it happens to be, 
I'll come immediately to you. But don't delay, if once you decide I can 
help with Exorcism." 

When Jamsie got home that night, he could not sleep. But Ponto did 
not appear. 

About a month later, when Jamsie went for his yearly medical 
checkup, the doctor told him that all was well except for his heart. He 
should be careful of too much excitement. The doctor prescribed some 
tablets and regulated Jamsie's diet. The doctor asked him if he was 
worried about anything. Was there anything preying on his mind? 


Jamsie was surprised at the sharpness of the doctor. Yes, he admitted, 
he was very preoccupied with personal matters. The doctor recom- 
mended that Jamsie think about consulting a psychologist — just to 
chat over things, relieve the strain a little. He gave Jamsie the name of 
a man whom he could personally recommend. 

Jamsie thought over the matter for about a week. He could not 
accept Mark's conclusion that Ponto should be exorcised — not because 
he did not believe that Ponto was a disembodied spirit, or "anyway 
partially disembodied," he thought wryly, but because he could not 
face up to daily life without Ponto's disturbances. 

But then he began to wonder why he liked such disturbances. 
Because Ponto's possession of him had already gone a certain distance? 
That was what Mark thought. Or because, as he preferred to think, 
Ponto was the one relief in an otherwise bleak landscape — and, into 
the bargain, a marvelous stimulus for his work? Or was this precisely 
the trap Ponto had laid for him? All the lines crisscrossed in confusion. 
And the confusion only got worse when he began to have all sorts of 
doubts about Mark's judgment and intentions. These priests were 
always looking for converts anyway, he thought. Yet Mark sounded so 
sincere. Perhaps, after all, a talk with a good psychologist would be 

All that week, Ponto did not appear. 

It was when he was driving to his first appointment with the 
psychologist that Jamsie heard Ponto for the first time in eight or nine 

"The shrink's all right, Jamsie. He's a good man; and you go and do 
what he says. But if you would only listen to me and do what I want, 
you would need no shrink." Jamsie went anyway. 

The psychologist recommended by his doctor passed Jamsie on to a 
psychiatrist colleague. Jamsie spent over 18 months in therapy, but the 
results were terribly disappointing. 

The therapist started off by warning Jamsie that his psychological 
condition was precarious indeed. He needed extended treatment. But 
after about six months, the therapist reversed his judgment. He said he 
could not find any genuine psychological imbalance or abnormalcy in 
Jamsie. All of Jamsie's accounts of Ponto, the therapist said, were 
concocted holus-bolus by Jamsie, were deliberate inventions. The 
damned thing was a hoax, and he for one didn't think it was funny. 
Jamsie finally persuaded the man that this was no hoax, and went on 


earnestly with therapy for another year. But finally, when it was clear 
that there was no appreciable change for the better, Jamsie gave up on 

During this period of therapy Ponto appeared regularly and with his 
usual behaviorisms, but he never really distressed Jamsie. In fact, 
Jamsie was glad to see Ponto. He seemed more real than the therapist 
and all his analyses. And, as Ponto remarked to jamsie one day, "You 
and I, Jamsie, are one, real flesh and blood; but that shrink lives in his 
head. Now I ask you: Which is the better off?" 

Toward the end of Jamsie's treatment with the therapist, Ponto 
seemed to grow impatient, as if he had a deadline to meet in Jamsie's 
case. More and more, Jamsie found that Ponto's thoughts, reactions, 
feelings, memories, intentions were present to his consciousness, even 
when Ponto was not visible. He began to experience two sets of 
thoughts and feelings — his own and Ponto's. He always knew which 
were which, but he literally had no privacy of mind. 

Amazingly enough, except for an occasional clash with Jay Beedem, 
who always treated Jamsie with marked coldness, Jamsie's work 
continued to be excellent. But by November 1963, internally, inside 
Jamsie, life was becoming unbearable. 

Jamsie remembers clearly that it was from December 1963 that a 
new desperation began to take hold of him. Ponto did not let up. He 
kept devising new antics and developed the habit of appearing in 
Jamsie's apartment at the end of the day and not disappearing till 
Jamsie went to bed. He chattered on and on, usually urging Jamsie to 
do something — quit his job, take a trip, hate this person or that — but 
most often to "let Ponto in." 

Jamsie remembers one incident clearly. He had returned home one 
evening very late. Ponto appeared on his living-room table and spent 
about an hour juggling words and phrases and colored lumps of 
sound — or so it seemed to Jamsie — in the air. Then, as Ponto grew 
more intense, he developed a chant that grated terribly on Jamsie, a 
sort of "rhythm and grunt." He repeated a word over and over with a 
little rhythmic grunt after it each time. "Let me in," he would begin. 
Then over and over and over: "Let-uh! Let-uh! Let-uh! Me-uh! 
Me-uh! Me-uh! In-uh! In-uh! In-uh!" 

The staccato beat was torture to Jamsie. He finally screamed at 
Ponto to stop. 

In the months following, Jamsie was treated to repeat performances 
along this line, sometimes once a week. Each time, Jamsie would be 


reduced to shouting and screaming in order to silence Ponto. 
Neighbors complained regularly about the noise. 

Very late one particular evening in December of 1963, after having 
had his nerves jangled in this way by Ponto for too long, Jamsie could 
hardly believe it when Ponto was finally quiet for a while. Jamsie 
soaked up the badly needed tranquillity. 

But rather soon he began to hear a new sound. He listened intently. 
He could hear Ponto's voice clearly, but it seemed to be caught up in a 
babel of other voices similar to Ponto's. 

He could not tell what was being said. There was a lot of laughter 
and many exclamations. But the whole thing reminded him of how 
sometimes he used to listen to the radio in his home of the 1930s and 
get nothing but a rising and falling stream of static together with 
indistinct and far-off voices. 

As Jamsie strained to hear, there was a pause and silence. Then 
Ponto's mincing voice from the kitchen: "Jamsie, would you mind if 
some of my associates and family joined us? After all, we are going to 
get married, aren't we? And soon, eh?" 

The babel of voices started again and seemed to be approaching the 
door of his living room. 

Jamsie froze for a second; then, seized by a blind, rushing panic, he 
stood up and dashed out the door, got into his car, and sped as fast as 
he could to the Golden Gate Bridge. His mind was numb, but his 
emotions were in turmoil. He felt cold, unwanted, persecuted, 
desperate. He could not take any more of it. He wanted out. He 
stopped in the middle of the bridge. 

"It's no use, Jamsie." 

Jamsie knew the voice. God! He could have cried. There he was, 
balanced on the damned guardrail. 

"It's no use, my friend. You and I have much to do before your life 
ends. Why do you think I am to be your familiar? So that you die 
young? Don't be a fool!" 

Jamsie turned away. For the first time he had the feeling of being 
beaten by Ponto. He made his way slowly back home. There was no 
hurry. He did not know what to do anyway. He thought aimlessly of 
Mark. But what the hell, the shrink hadn't helped. What could Mark 
do for him? 

Ponto did not appear again that night, but it was a very brief rest for 
Jamsie. The nighttime had always been a great source of strength and 
recuperation for Jamsie; and even though Ponto had been encroaching 


a little more all the time, there had always remained some hours at 
night when Jamsie was alone, relatively at peace, and could rest. Ponto 
had never stayed the entire night without asking Jamsie's consent. 

But now Ponto insisted: they had to be intimate. What he meant by 
that Jamsie was never sure. But it did mean he would spend nights in 
Jamsie's apartment. And with a significance that escaped Jamsie, 
Ponto wanted him to consent. They were going to be married, weren't 
they? They were going to make the whole thing legal, weren't they? 
Ponto said, grinning in his crooked fashion. 

After weeks of badgering, Jamsie was ripe to make a drastic 
decision. Anything would be better than this torture. Should he finish 
it all by suicide? Or would it be better to telephone Father Mark? Or 
should he just give in to Ponto and see how things worked out? 

The worst of the badgering sessions with Ponto occurred on 
February 1. Ponto installed himself in Jamsie's bedroom. Jamsie spent 
the night stalking up and down his living-room floor, making coffee to 
stay awake, arguing in a loud voice with Ponto, weeping continuously, 
smoking and drinking intermittently. He could not get rid of Ponto. 
And he could not make up his mind. He needed time. It was the 
pressure on him by Ponto to make a decision that was crushing his 

Finally he decided to make time for thinking and analyzing it all. He 
would ask for a leave of absence from the station. During the leave he 
could go over all the events of the last few years, consult with the 
psychiatrist again, see Father Mark, and get sufficient control of 
himself to form some decision about a wise course of action. 

When he arrived at the station early the following morning and 
went to see Jay Beedem to request a few days' leave, his difficulties 
took a new form. 

Beedem spoke without lifting his face from the notes he was 
reading. Beedem had noticed the increasingly peculiar behavior of 
Jamsie over the last few weeks, he said. Beedem did not think a leave 
of absence was the solution. Of course, Jamsie had some overdue 
vacation days coming to him. But Beedem felt that, if Jamsie 
continued creating a tension among the other station employees, there 
could be no other alternative but to fire him. 

The tone was neither friendly nor unfriendly. Neutral. Very cold. 

Jamsie still thought he could get through to Beedem if he could just 


give him some idea of the dimension of the personal problem that was 
torturing him. But when he tried, Beedem broke in slowly and 
emphatically: "If you cannot make right decisions in personal affairs, 
you cannot be trusted with matters that involve our clients and our 

Then Beedem lifted his head for the first time since Jamsie had 
entered his office. Jamsie looked for some spark, any inkling of hope 
for himself. Beedem's eyes were blank. Really blank. No metaphor. 
They could have been made of colored glass, except that, unlike glass, 
they did not reflect the office or the objects around them or the light 
from the windows. 

Jamsie knew then that there was no use trying to get through to 
Beedem. He said something about catching up on the vacation days he 
had missed. Beedem bent once again over his notes. 

As Jamsie closed the door on his way out, he threw a quick look 
back: Beedem was sitting bolt upright in his chair, eyes fixed on 
Jamsie, glaring steadily. Beedem was looking through him, Jamsie 
thought. Was that a look of hate and sneering contempt in Beedem's 
eyes? Or was it simply the natural reaction of a harried station 
manager to yet another personal problem of an employee? 

Going down the corridor to his office, Jamsie tried to remember 
some of Mark's after-dinner conversation with him. He seemed to be 
the only one Jamsie had met who was sure he had a bead on Jamsie's 
problem and what to do about it. But nothing was clear to Jamsie now. 
He sat down at his desk. He tried to clear his mind. He wanted to go 
over everything that had happened to him since he had taken up work 
at the station. His thoughts were in a maelstrom. He could not think 
logically. Words such as "good," "evil," "Satan," "Jesus," "Ponto," 
"marriage," "possession," "free will" twirled and tumbled around 
inside his head. He could not straighten them out. Then "Beedem" 
began bobbing up in front of his mind. Beedem? Just like that, with a 
large question mark. "Jay Beedem? Jay Beedem? Jay Beedem?" 

"Jamsie, I've got the schedule for next month worked out." It was 
his producer, Cloyd. 

Jamsie looked up stupidly and muttered: "Jay Beedem?" 

"Oh, he's seen it. It's okay. We're all set. Wanna see it?" 

Jamsie took the schedule. But he could not concentrate on it now. 
"I'll call you, Cloyd," was all he could manage. 

When he was alone, he tried again. It was no use. He could see 


Mark's face, Jay Beedem's face, Ponto's face, his own face, Ara's face, 
Lydia's face, Cloyd's face. And Jay Beedem's again, with that look of 
contempt and hate. But they were all question marks now. 

Slowly Jamsie began to calm down; and he tried to get some 
questions in order, at least. Was Mark right, and was he being invited 
to be possessed? Was he possessed already? Was Mark just another 
priest trying to make a convert out of him? Or maybe somewhere 
along the line the shrink had been right? Was he paranoid or 
schizophrenic? Making it all up? 

Still restless, his thoughts switched back to Beedem. What was he 
anyway? Just another stupid, heartless jerk? No, this guy had 
something else. And he had it in spades. Until today, when Jamsie had 
happened to glance back, he had never seen Jay Beedem display an 
emotion. Nothing from inside. He had never even seen him really 

He started to think more about Beedem as a person. What did he 
know of him? Beedem was a natural salesman. He could speak in 
10,000 different tongues and tones, so to say, when he wanted to sell 
something. He had a vicious wit and could turn without warning on 
anyone and cut them down mercilessly in public. He often used 
four-letter words as if they were gilt-edged securities to guarantee the 
authority and accuracy of what he said. The women at the office 
shunned him. Some had slept with him once — but no one ever 
repeated the performance. He was either feared or despised, even 
when he made people laugh. 

Uncle Ponto still never appeared when Beedem was around. Ponto 
appeared everywhere else, goddammit, Jamsie thought bitterly. Why 
not whenever he was with Jay Beedem? Why not today, when he 
could have used a little of that glib coaching? 

Some strange edge to Beedem worried Jamsie. He was angry, sure. 
But that wasn't it. He just couldn't get it together in his head. 

Then all of a sudden Jamsie was distracted from his thoughts about 
Beedem. It had been a long time since he'd worried about it, but now 
he felt he had to solve the old puzzle of the "look," the "funny-lookin' 
face." Great! As on that crazy night in Cleveland, he was sure now he 
was on the verge of discovering what he had "been told about it." For 
the first time in years he tried desperately to get all his memories 
together, in order to piece the fragments into a composite robot 

Time and time again, as he sat at his desk, he thought he had it. His 


knuckles were white as he gripped the arms of his chair in the effort. 
But each time, the bits fell away from his bidding. He sat hunched up 
in his chair, laboring at this mental sketch; and slowly, bit by bit, the 
fragments started finally to fall into place and stay put. 

After some time, Cloyd stopped by Jamsie's office again. He found 
Jamsie in extraordinary efforts of concentration, groaning and mutter- 
ing to himself. When he could not get Jamsie's attention, he became 
frightened and ran for help. He found two station engineers, and 
together all three of them watched Jamsie, wondering what they 
should do. 

Jamsie, meanwhile, was totally absorbed in his effort. He was on the 
very verge, he felt. But, at once, all the fragments fell apart into a long, 
jagged line at the end of which were Jav BeedenVs unsmiling eyes. 
Then, again in a lightning flash, the line of fragments seemed to pour 
out his right ear, make for the window, and disappear up into the blue 
midday sky. The last trace he saw of it was Jav BeedenVs face, for once 
broken by an ear-to-ear grin, trailing off at the tail end of the 
retreating line. 

Jamsie clapped his hands to his ears. He was shouting, a tangled, 
throaty gust of protest and rage. 

Finally he heard Cloyd's voice coming from a great distance: 
"Jamsie! Jamsie! Are you okay? Jamsie! Wake up!" He felt three pairs 
of hands on him, and he looked into the frightened faces of Cloyd and 
the two engineers. 

"What's going on here?" It was Jay Beedem, calm, dispassionate, 
annoyed, and bored all at once. He stood in the door and motioned 
with his hand to the others to leave. He told Jamsie almost paternally 
that he should take the rest of the day off. 

Jamsie felt completely beaten. He had not solved anything. He had 
not understood anything. It was idiotic for things to start flving out of 
his head again. He had not even gotten a leave of absence. The rest of 
the day off! Thanks a lot, he thought. 

He stood up drooping and bowed, almost in tears. Jay Beedem stood 
aside. Jamsie stumbled out of the office, down the corridor, and out it 
into the parking lot to his car. It was Jamsie's last day at the station. 
He would not see Jay Beedem again. But at that moment Jamsie could 
not think ahead for five minutes. 

The moment he entered his apartment, he knew Ponto was there 
somewhere. There was that smell . . . 

"Now, don't be angry, Jamsie," the voice came from the hall closet. 


"I'm going to remain away from you until you call me. Don't be angry. 
Just give the matter some cool thought." Jamsie brightened slightly. 
But fatigue took over. He fell on the bed, and in a few minutes was 
fast asleep. 

It was about seven o'clock on Saturday morning when he awoke 
quietly. He was sure that some sound had awakened him. He listened 
for a few moments. Then he heard a rustling and scraping sound from 
the closet where Ponto had been the previous night. 

Jamsie grew tense and suspicious. What was Ponto up to now? He 
tiptoed over, stood listening a moment, then jerked the sliding door of 
the closet aside. What he saw galvanized him with a disgust and 
outrage he had never felt before, even in his worst times with Ponto. 
Ponto was sitting on top of the old icon, picking away at the bits of 
mosaic that composed the face of the Virgin. Already the eyes were 
two sightless black holes, and Ponto was working on the mouth. 

When Jamsie looked in at him, he stopped in a leisurely fashion, one 
fingernail curled around a mosaic fragment. 

"We won't be needing this garbage, Jamsie, will we, you and I?" He 
smiled self-assuredly. The smell wafted around Jamsie's nostrils. "After 
all, I can't spend the night with this thing beside me, now, can I?" 
Ponto smirked. 

Jamsie saw red. All the resentment that had piled up inside him 
since his early teens — his anger at being frightened, his frustration 
about that "funny-lookin' face," his disappointment with his father 
and mother, his final desire to be rid of Ponto and his importunings, his 
perpetual loneliness — all burst out from his inner self, flooding his 
mind with a nausea against knowing anything more about life. In that 
moment his will went rigid with a firm decision that pointed him to 
dying and death as his only release and hope of rest. 

For some seconds he stood swaying from side to side, his head 
aching. Then he broke into the desperate rage that propelled him like 
a wild man, swearing and cursing out loud, as he bolted down the 
front steps to his car. 


There was nothing very unusual about Father Mark A.'s childhood or 
about his family. Mark is a native New Yorker. His father, still alive, is 
a Yankee from Maine who settled in New York after World War I. His 


mother, now dead, was a Kelly from Tennessee, Her family had come 
over from Ireland to America in the late eighteenth century. She had 
been educated in Kansas City. When she came to New York to stay a 
while with relatives, she met her husband. He worked in a large 
accounting firm. 

Mark was the third of five children. His two brothers still live in 
New York. One of his sisters married a Swiss manufacturer and lives in 
Zurich. The other sister, a missionary nun, was in the Philippines when 
World War II broke out. She survived in a Japanese concentration 
camp, but she was badly weakened and died in Manila after the war 
was over. 

All in all, no one could have guessed that a man of Mark's normal 
and uneventful background would be the one person who could not 
only believe, but understand Jamsie's predicament, or that Mark's 
father's rather prosaic profession as an accountant would be the 
chance link to complete the chain of circumstances. 

As a young man, after a year and a half of college, Mark entered the 
diocesan seminary. Seven years later, in 1928, along with eight other 
men, he became a priest. He spent ten years as an assistant in four 
parishes of the New York diocese. He became known as a hard worker 
and a very effective priest. He was practical rather than mystical, an 
activist decades before that was fashionable, and very hard to 
discourage. Those who knew him then recall him as bouncy, almost 
jaunty, with clear blue eyes, quick gestures, ready words, sudden 
flare-ups of temper and equally quick returns of good humor. 

Mark himself tells how in those early years life always seemed to 
him to be made up of "scenarios." Each situation was composed of 
people and objects. You assessed the people, got to know the objects, 
and plotted your course of action, your "scenario," for that situation. 
Mark shunned any wishy-washy ideas about "motivations" or any 
"mystical realities." To many of his contemporaries he seemed to have 
a shallow and brittle approach. And, indeed, Mark now admits that in 
those early years it was as though his inner self was covered with a 
hard, protective rind that nothing pierced. He was impervious to any 
emotional appeal; and he was not held up or influenced by the 
intangibles of a situation. 

When Mark was about to be moved to his fourth parish, his, 
ecclesiastical superiors offered him a choice: a parish in the suburbs, or 
one in the center of midtown Manhattan. Mark chose without 
hesitation to work in the heart of the city. And for the next two years 


he experienced a new set of problems, totally different from those he 
had been confronting in the outlying parishes where he had already 

At that moment in its history, just prior to World War II, New York 
was a mecca of sorts, and not merely for those with financial and 
economic interests. Serviced by 21 tunnels, 20 bridges, 16 ferries, 6 
major airlines, New York received 115,000 visitors on an average day 
and an additional 270,000 out-of-town delegates who came to 500 
annual conventions. Through trunkline railways, buslines, airlines, 
highways, they poured into the city and, as one statistician of that time 
calculated, on any one given night the hotel bedsheets in use would 
have covered 840 acres of Central Park. 

The visitors could stay in any one of 460 hotels with a total of over 
112,000 rooms costing anything from 254; in the Bronx to $50 per day 
at the Ritz. And, with or without the courteous and patient help of the 
eight young ladies in Macy's City Information Bureau, they found 
their way to one or another of New York's 9,000 restaurants, where 
thev ordered their heart's desire from Irish stew, Japanese sukiyaki, 
and Creole gumbo, to Swedish smorgasbord, Budapest salami, and 
Cephalonian afgalimono, 

"Hard-boiled New York is just a three-minute egg" rhapsodized the 
Convention and Visitors Bureau in one of its blurbs. Visitors rapidly 
discovered the soft center of that marvelous city. But Mark discovered 
that there was also a smell of human suffering and degradation. 

Marks parish was in the center of the tourist and hotel area. 
Between chambermaids, bellhops, desk clerks, cashiers, stewards, 
chefs, waiters and waitresses, and kitchen help, Mark calculated that 
there were 50,000 to 75,000 men and women whose hours were 
irregular and long. They went to bed when most church services were 
starting. Many were holding down two jobs at the same time. There 
was no way for these men and women to keep religion as part of 
hotel-life schedules. But it was such a hidden problem — or at least one 
nobody would normally think of — that it was practically neglected by 
every church. 

What heightened both the plight and the peril of those neglected 
people in Mark's eyes was the web of organized crime — mainly in drug 
traffic, prostitution, and the numbers game— into which many were 
willy-nilly drawn. From simple steering of individual visitors to 
pimping for one or another of the several madams and their parlor 
houses: from simple bet collecting to bet agenting; from drug running 


to drug peddling and distributing; the road in every case was easy to 
find and too attractive not to try. Even with the Seabury investigation 
in 1930 and the breakup of the Luciano syndicate by Thomas Dewey 
some time later, there was no real cessation of this traffic in crime and 

Mark's father, as a certified accountant, handled the affairs of some 
major hotels in New York City. When Mark took up his new post, his 
father provided him with introductions to some of his friends and 
clients in the area. It was exactly the opening Mark needed in order to 
get to know the conditions in the hotels and restaurants, and to talk 
often and easily with the personnel. His factual mind seized on the 
salient elements, and his priestly experience and instincts indicated to 
him what could be done to meet the religious needs of the hotel and 
restaurant workers. 

By the time his next tour of duty came up for consideration two 
years later, he had his mind more or less made up as to what he wished 
to do. 

In August 1938 he got his chance. He had a long discussion with his 
superiors. He had a simple proposal to make: to undertake a special 
mission as chaplain extraordinary to the hotel and restaurant personnel 
in New York City. As Mark presented the case, it must have sounded 
like asking to go as missionary to savage lands. The superiors were 
impressed with his analysis of the situation. They were not difficult to 
persuade. The decision was made, and Mark went to live in a midtown 
parish rectory. He was relieved of all duties in that parish. It was to be 
merely his home base. 

His new parish actually lay in every hotel in Manhattan and 
Brooklyn Heights. He divided this parish into six areas based on a 
rough grouping of hotels. The Grand Central area was centered on the 
Commodore and the Biltmore. The Penn Station area had the New 
Yorker as its center point. Times Square was relatively self-contained. 
The East Side was dominated by the Waldorf-Astoria. The Central 
Park group centered around the Plaza and the Sherry Netherlands. 
Brooklyn Heights centered mainly on the 2,641-room St. George. 

But Mark's beat was not exclusively hotels, and it definitely was not 
all first class. He knew restaurants, nightclubs, swing joints, dives, 
second-, third-, and no-class hotels. He was as familiar as the 
"regulars" in the Paradise Cabaret on Broadway and in the Cotton 
Club on 48th Street (where, as he recalls, "50 Tall Tan Girls" danced 
to Cab Calloway's music). He knew Billy Rose's Casino de Paree, and 


was well known at swing joints such as the Onyx, the Famous Door, 
the Hickory House. 

It was not surprising that Mark got to know some of New York's 
best chefs (and some of the worst!). Partly as a means to help him 
reach the hearts and minds of some of his "parish," Mark began to 
take an interest in cooking. One fine day he even found he had a 
genuine talent for cooking and that he had a real interest in it. 

It would not be long before he found that this was not the only part 
of his new life that would reach inside and become part of him always. 

Mark was on a late-night call — ordinary for his new beat — when he 
had his first close brush with a force that would later become the focus 
of all his efforts. It was at the bedside of a young prostitute who had 
been found bleeding and unconscious in a vacant lot near Ninth 
Avenue and 43rd Street. This and Sugar Hill in Harlem, where the 
mulattoes plied their trade, were the cheapest and the most dangerous 
areas in prostitution. Mark never went there except on urgent call. 

When he entered the ill-lit room where the girl lay, her mother was 
there. She indicated the little cot in the semidarkness of one corner. 
The girl was moaning in pain. In the shadows at the foot of the cot 
Mark could see the figure of a man wearing a hat and overcoat, hands 
thrust in his pockets. As Mark approached the cot, the man took out 
one hand and held it up in an arresting motion. Mark stopped. 

"Who is this?'' Mark asked the girl's mother in a whisper. 

She shook her head. "I don't know, Father. He used to be with her 
now and then. He came in a few moments ago. I thought he . . ." She 
trailed off helplessly. 

Mark was now close enough to see the girl's eyes in the semidark- 
ness. They were open and fixed on the man at the foot of the cot. The 
little light thrown by the single bulb in the room picked up the oddest 
expression in her eyes. Mark's mind flashed in a split-second memory 
to a pet rabbit he had had as a boy. One day he found the rabbit 
huddled and shivering staring at the cat that hovered by its cage. The 
ugly glitter in the cat's eyes — its superiority, its mysterious pull on 
him, its cruelty and disdain — was hypnotic. The fear that paralyzed 
the rabbit was dreadful and pathetic. 

"She doesn't need you." 

The words came from the man standing at the foot of the cot. The 
accent was normal. The tone was authoritative. There was no hint of 
hostility, just utter finality. 


Mark fumbled for his crucifix and the little bottle of holy water he 
always carried. He had decided in that instant to give the girl a 
blessing and to leave it at that. He was not begging for trouble. 
Perhaps she was not even Catholic. 

''That is enough." 

The same voice again, but this time the tone held a definite menace. 
There was an implicit "or else" in those three words. 

Mark was puzzled. Perhaps the man did not understand. He turned 
and faced the dark figure. It seemed to withdraw deeper into the 

"But I'm . . ." Mark began by way of explanation. 

But he never finished the sentence. The entire "scenario" as he had 
seen it up to that moment disappeared. It all became clear to him. The 
hard rind seemed to have been peeled off of his inner self; and he 
became wholly sensitive to what lay behind the "scenario" facing 
him — the girl, the man, the old woman, the dingy room, and the 
peculiar atmosphere enveloping all three of them. He was instantly 
aware of multiple relationships stretching taut like invisible cords 
among all present. 

He drew back almost in shock at what he now understood. He knew 
that somehow the girl was in thrall to that man. And he knew it was 
far beyond the thralldom of a prostitute to her pimp. Somehow the 
man could assert his claim with a brutal authority. 

The girl's mother touched Mark on the arm. They left the room. 
Outside, their conversation was brief. 

"No, Father," she answered his question. "He's not her pimp." She 
looked at him with eyes full of despair. "I thought you'd get to her 
before they arrived." 

"They?" echoed Mark with a new sense of shock. The mother 
nodded her head and stared steadily at him. He made a move to go 
back in. 

"No." She laid a hand gently but firmly on his arm. "No. You're still 
young. You don't know what you're up against. You can't deal with 
anything like this. Yet." And then, already moving away from Mark to 
the door of the apartment, "Save yourself, Father. She's already in 
their grip." 

She opened the door, and then closed it between them before he 
could ask any more questions. 

"You can't deal with it." 


He never forgot the woman's words. But it took him some months 
and many experiences before he began to understand that he was 
more than once up against cases of possession. Sometimes the 
situations resembled that of the dying girl, but not always. 

At the end of the year Mark went to his superiors again and asked to 
speak to the official exorcist of the diocese. There was none, he was 
told, at that particular moment. But, said the official with whom Mark 
talked, if any cases of possession came up, they would call Mark in. He 
said this with the jocularity that is so often the sign of total ignorance. 
After all, the official added, with what Mark had been through, and if 
Mark's suspicions were true, he already had more experience than 
anyone else they knew. 

The official's tone may have been light, but the result of the 
conversation was serious. Mark was now official exorcist of his diocese. 

With intermittent breaks in his routine and some trips to other parts 
of the country and to Canada, Mark's ministry in New York lasted for 
24 years. During that time he developed his knowledge and skill in 
dealing with cases of possession (real and counterfeit — he always said 
that out of every hundred claimants there might be one genuine case). 
But, more importantly, he became aware of an entire world of the 
spirit about which he had been taught nothing in the seminary and 
which seemed to flourish as the dark underside of life in his beloved 
New York. 

Mark still gave the impression of jaunty objectivity. But now there 
was a deep underlay of awareness and shrewdness. And he was open 
and sensitive to the slightest trace of diabolism, while highly skeptical 
of all claims of diabolical "attention." 

It was a source of some amazement to his close associates and 
superiors that he did not go the way of most exorcists. A few years' 
active ministry in Exorcism, and the majority paled, as it were: they 
seemed to wither in a variety of ways; some by illness, others by 
premature aging; others still because they seemed to have lost the will 
to live. 

"Most of us crawl away and die somewhere quietly," Mark said as 
we talked one evening. I knew he was right. 

"Why not you, Mark?" 

"Well, you see," Mark began jokingly, "I have this great pal 
upstairs, and when I start into one of those exorcism businesses, he 
comes along and holds my hand." But at the end of the sentence 
Mark's eyes were away over my head and his expression was not in the 


least jocular. It was luminous and fixed on some object or person 1 
could not identify. 

One colleague of Mark's with whom I talked had been a close friend 
since their seminary days. They had alwavs exchanged confidences. 
But all that had changed. He told me he had long since realized that 
Mark's inner life had been invaded by a dimension of which he knew 
very little and at which he could onlv guess. 

Mark seemed all of a sudden very old and deeplv weary to his 
friend. For most priests, as for most lay people, the world of the 
exorcist is totally unknown. The toll it takes is incommunicable and 
can pass unnoticed for years, even by those nearest to the exorcist. 

But in those days Mark was still a young man. He lost most of his 
hair before he was thirty-five, but so did his two brothers. His health 
remained excellent. He exercised frequently, and rarely seemed to be 
affected adversely by his job. For two or three weeks after his first 
brush with an evil spirit, he seemed retired into himself and to be in 
deep thought. Then he snapped out of it. When he came across his 
first case of a "familiar" spirit (the subject was a pimp arrested for a 
multiple murder), he was completely befuddled, as he now admits. 
"Evil was very hard to trace, ' he recalls. "And I had two psychiatrists 
telling me that this was a classical case of multiple personality/' In 
spite of the psychiatrists' opinions (which seemed to be somewhat 
confused, anyway, Mark recalls) and his own puzzlement about the 
case, Mark decided to try Exorcism because of four cardinal "symp- 
toms": the physical disturbances accompanying the presence of the 
pimp, the pimp's physically uncontrollable and violent reaction to the 
crucifix, to the name of Jesus, and to holy water. 

The only type of possession that produced a strange and unwonted 
tension in Mark was what he came to discern as "the perfectly 
possessed." His colleagues learned of such cases from Mark only 
because from time to time they sensed a peculiar tension very unusual 
in Mark. And occasionally they questioned him, thinking that he had 
had some accident, or that he was in some danger, or that they might 
help solve some problem. What they saw in Mark at such times, as 
they or some of them came to learn, was not a nervous tension, but 
rather an intense watchfulness and wariness which, his friends felt, 
was directed even at them. At those times he gave the impression of 
extreme guardedness. He was tight-lipped, gimlet-eved, and curt in his 
conversation. When they finally were able to draw him out, and he 
gave them some idea of the condition of those who, he found, were 


perfectly possessed, they were taken aback by his totally negative 
attitude. This, too, was very unusual in Mark. 

To all questions as to why there was no room for mercy or hope in 
such cases, Mark would try to recount some of his experiences with 
the perfectly possessed. But most of all he reflected the reality of the 
experience in a stare of such stark and concentrated realization that no 
one could pursue the subject further with him. 

At the age of sixty Mark asked for a sabbatical. His health was still 
good, but something was changing in him. The years had piled up 
inside him an accumulation of disgusts and reticences that finally even 
he could not ignore. 

His preference for a temporary location fell on San Francisco, 
where he had many friends and acquaintances. By April 1963, he was 
in residence there. He was given little by way of duties in the parish 
where he was staying, and spent most of his time in the open air. 

But his compassion and his professional interests were aroused when 
Lila Wood, one of his acquaintances, talked to him at length one day 
about Jamsie Z., whom she had recently met at the broadcasting studio 
where she worked, and who not only seemed deeply troubled, but was 
more or less politely shunned by everybody. 

Mark asked Lila many questions, until she had given him a fairly 
detailed picture of Jamsie 's odd behavior. Even from this secondhand 
description, Mark was pretty certain that in Jamsie he was probably 
up against a case of a "familiar." 

What distressed Mark most in his own first long discussion with 
Jamsie was his strong impression that, short either of a miracle or of 
Exorcism, Jamsie Z. was on the high road either to complete possession 
by his insistent ''familiar" or to suicide as the easiest way of ridding 
himself once and for all of his misery. Mark knew the symptoms. And, 
more importantly, he had acquired over the years an instinct for the 
crisis point of "familiar" possession. The instinct was like that 
developed by painters for color and hue and chromatic intensity. That 
instinct could not be taught, but could only be learned by experience. 

The person harassed by the "familiar's" advances, in the extreme 
stages of that harassment and just before the final outcome, generally 
begins to have dim perceptions of some more potent figure or force, as 
a greater shadow thrown by the lesser "familiar" or that which follows 
on the "familiar." 

After Jamsie Z.'s unmistakable experience at the reservoir, Mark 
knew several things: there was no doubt in his mind that Ponto was 


totally real; there was no doubt that he, Mark, would be making a fatal 
mistake to be put off by the bizarre and often unbelievable predica- 
ment of Jamsie, or to dismiss his rages and antics as "psycho" 
behavior; and there was no doubt that Jamsie had reached the critical 

The exorcism involving Jamsie Z. and Uncle Ponto lacked much of 
the violent, scatological, and pornographic elements that accompany 
other types and cases of possession. The struggle was at a different 
level, involved a different genre of spirit, and concerned a possession 
whose intensity was achieved over most of a lifetime. 

Mark had come to know by experience that the degree of 
intelligence and knowledge that generally seems to characterize 
"familiars" is very low, sometimes approaching the level of half-witted 
children. "Familiars" seem to have only a small quantum of factual 
knowledge and very little power of foresight or anticipation. They 
appear to be bound by cast-iron rules and to be in strict dependence 
on a "higher" intelligence about which they talk frequently and to 
which Ponto, for example, had to have recourse at every crisis. 

The "familiar" gives the impression of a weak mirror reflection, so 
to speak, of a greater one. So great seems this dependence of the 
"familiar" that it never directly engages the exorcist. 

This attribute of the "familiar" spirit in particular complicated 
Mark's efforts. It meant he was working by proxy, or on a secondhand 
basis. Jamsie was the only one able to hear and see Uncle Ponto, and 
Jamsie had to verbalize it all for Mark. Ponto could hear and see Mark, 
but it was only when Ponto's "superior" took over that Mark was 
dealing directly with the evil spirit. 

In excerpting Jamsie Z.'s exorcism, the choice fell primarily on those 
exchanges that bring out two points: first, the process of Jamsie's 
possession, and second, the extremely complex relationships implied 
by this kind of possession — Ponto's relationship as the "familiar" to 
Jamsie as the possessed, on the one hand, and the relationship of both 
Jamsie and Ponto to the "superior" spirit, on the other hand. 

Mark's past experience of possession by "familiar" spirits had taught 
him one principal difference between the exorcism of a "familiar" and 
that of the other kinds of evil spirit. Other types of possessed find 
themselves almost completely bereft of their freedom. They are saved 
solely by an influx of grace, channeled through the ministrations of the 
exorcist. But the victim of the "familiar" spirit is quasi-possessed by 


the ''familiar," until he gives final consent to the "familiar" and to a 
"sharing" of himself. Even then, the loss of control over one's inner 
self does not appear so deep that contact with the exorcist is to all 
intents and purposes impossible for him, as it often is in other types of 
possession where the evil spirit "hides" behind the identity of the 
victim and responds instead of the victim. In this type of possession, it 
is almost as though the "superior" spirit "hides" behind the "familiar" 

Being relatively free, then, and not out of contact with the exorcist, 
the victim of the "familiar" must be active in his own exorcism. He, in 
fact, must be the final source of his own liberation by accepting the 
healing and salvation from God. And, in this sense, the exorcee in such 
a case is the one who enables the exorcist to complete his work. 

Mark spent quite a lot of time explaining to Jamsie this peculiarity 
of his forthcoming exorcism. Jamsie, like many others, had never 
reflected on his freedom. Free will was just a vague and abstract term 
for him. It took Mark a good deal of explaining to get Jamsie to 
understand that he had to exercise an option. This was the basic option 
of free will. Mark could only indicate to Jamsie when he should make a 
tremendous effort of will. Only Mark would be in a position to know 
the precise moment at which Jamsie could most effectively make that 

A peculiarity of this exorcism had to do with a ploy of Ponto's that 
had the same mischievous quality about it as many of the antics that 
had worn Jamsie down so much. The exorcism could be performed 
only after the sun went down. In fact, it was not always possible to 
start immediately at sundown; Ponto might not respond or appear for 
quite a while. And it was not possible to continue the exorcism after 
sunrise. This was not considered by Mark to be characteristic of this 
type of possession — just a mark of malice on the part of Uncle Ponto 
and his "superior." The night held terrors for Jamsie from which he 
was free during the daytime. That was a plus for Ponto and his 

On the other hand, during daylight hours, Mark had ample time to 
consult the psychiatrist who had dealt with Jamsie. He also had Jamsie 
thoroughly checked by a doctor of his own choosing. 

The psychiatrist remained in his unwavering conclusion that Jamsie 
was not suffering from anything like paranoia or schizophrenia. And 
finally during the exorcism itself Mark found that the Uncle Ponto 


Jamsie saw and heard informed him accurately about things which 
Jamsie could neither have known nor guessed. 

Each session of the exorcism took place in a basement room of the 
rectory where there was virtually no probability of interruption by the 
outside world. Jamsie sat on a kitchen chair at a table except for the 
last portion of the exorcism. The assistants were four in number: a 
younger priest Mark had pressed into his service, two young friends of 
his who worked in a law firm together, and a local doctor whose 
judgment Mark felt he could trust. 

Jamsie's exorcism lasted over five days. 

Mark always began each session with the Salve Regina, a prayer to 
the Virgin, and he ended with the Anima Christi, a prayer to Jesus. 
Only in the last two sessions were there any violent objections 
channeled through Jamsie to these prayers. 

The first three sessions of the exorcism were full of irrelevant 
discourses by Uncle Ponto (all put into words by Jamsie). Mark bided 
his time and was certain he could afford to wait. He knew that sooner 
or later Uncle Ponto would break down and his "superior" would have 
to intervene. 

This is what happened in the fourth session. 


The time was 4:15 a.m., just an hour before sunrise. Mark had started 
the fourth session a little after midnight. He had pounded Ponto with 
questions through Jamsie for four hours, but Ponto had dodged them 
with prattling and nonsense. 

At this late moment in the session, Mark saw Jamsie straighten up in 
the chair and look to one side. To Mark it was obvious: Jamsie was 
seeing more than Ponto now. This was the first flaw, the first sign of 
weakness, the first indication Ponto's "superior" might be coming to 
his aid. Maybe Mark's pounding with questions had not been so wide 
of the mark after all. 

Mark's mind raced back over his most recent questions and 
hammerings at Uncle Ponto. He could think of only one thing that 
might have evoked Uncle Ponto's "superior." In answer to a spate of 
nonsensical remarks on Ponto's part, Mark had said in tones of utter 
disdain: "We have now come to the end of your intelligence. You have 


no more defense and no more explanations why this human soul 
should become 'familiarized' by you. You are repeating yourself. You 
are a nothing and worse than a nothing compared to the power of 
Jesus. In his name I tell you: you have to go forth and leave this person 
and go back to the one who sent you. You and he are defeated by 

'It's the Shadow, Father," Jamsie was staring, almost transfixed. 
The eyes of the pathetic young prostitute of nearly 30 years before, 
staring at the man in the shadows at the foot of her bed, seemed to 
stare for a moment from Jamsie's face, so similar was the look. 

Mark went on inexorably. "You are completely at the mercy of 
Jesus, you and all associated with you. Jamsie, however, is protected. 
You have no greater one, no one to make up for your stupidity." 

He glanced at Jamsie: "What is it, Jamsie? Tell me! Quick!" 

Mark was afraid Jamsie would be stilled by fright, or by some power 
Ponto held over him, or — -as had happened in other such cases — that 
Jamsie would fall unconscious before he could clue Mark in. 

"He's talking rubbish, Father," Jamsie answered with difficulty. 

Jamsie began to draw short breaths, as if breathing was now difficult 
for him. Then he started to cringe and draw into himself. His hands 
went to his neck as if to support his head. His face turned red. The 
doctor looked at Mark but made no move yet. The two young 
assistants stirred, ready to jump to Jamsie's aid. Mark quieted them 
with a gesture, then went on. 

"We think Jamsie had better die with the blessing of the Church 
than live on in such a condition." 

"No! No!" It was Jamsie, repeating for Mark what Ponto said, but 
with great difficulty. "I cannot fail. I must have my home. They will 
not allow that Person . . ." Jamsie broke off and started to gag and 

Mark went on. "We think Jesus, the Lord of all things, is coming to 
expel you, you puny and filthy being, expel you and send you back 
defenseless and stupid where you came from. Jesus cannot be 

Mark stopped. Jamsie's eyes had closed. His hands fell to his sides in 
a helpless gesture. He started to slither from the chair to the floor. 

"Quick!" Mark said to the assistants. "Get him on to the cot." 

As he slipped off the chair, Jamsie's body lodged between the chair 
and the table, resting not quite entirely on the floor. His fists were 
clenched and held tightly to his neck, his head was sunk on his chest, 


his shoulders hunched, his knees bent, his toes splayed out straight and 
rigid. He was a twisted mass of hard angles and awkward curves. At 
first, the assistants and Mark thought Jamsie had merely got jammed at 
a difficult angle between the chair and the table. But after a moment's 
effort and examination, they realized that they could not budge his 
body. It was heavier than anything they could move. They shifted the 
chair and table away. Jamsie fell heavily to the ground as if drawn by 
an invisible magnet. Throughout all this his eyes were open and staring 

Perspiring and helpless, the assistants looked up at Mark. 

He held up the crucifix and in a loud voice said: "I command you, 
Ponto, I command you in the name of Jesus! Let go of this creature of 
God. Cease to pin him to the ground. Let go, I command you!" 

Jamsie's body suddenly loosened. His head lolled to one side, his 
eyes turned upward until only the whites showed, his hands un- 
clenched, and his arms rolled to his sides lifelessly. 

Quickly the assistants picked him up and laid him on the cot. 

"Tie him down," said Mark. Then to the doctor: "Take a look, Tom. 
Just make sure, will you?" 

The doctor checked Jamsie's pulse and looked at Mark forebodingly. 
"Take it easy, Mark. He's very low. I have no means of knowing how 
low without more thorough checking. Take it easy." 

Mark nodded. He knew he was close to a break in Ponto's 
resistance. He motioned to them all to stand back. He took the 
holy-water flask from the young priest and, raising his hand, faced 
Jamsie as he lay on the cot. 

Mark sprinkled holy water on Jamsie in three deliberate gestures — 
he looked like a man throwing a grenade each time. And each time he 
pronounced in quick succession the words of his greatest reproach. He 
was addressing the "superior." 

"Lurking Coward. Filthy Traitor. Defeated Rebel. Come out from 
behind your miserable secundo, your toady. Come out. And be shamed 
once more. Once more be defeated by Jesus. Be thrust into the Pit." 

As his assistants saw him at that moment, Mark had completely 
changed. Up to this point, he had spoken softly, cautiously, every word 
and expression coming out of him after a weighty pause. Now he 
seemed suddenly to be a foot taller. At the same time he seemed coiled 
up. His face was hard; his mouth barely opened as he spoke; and, on 
the tape, there is a sudden, unexpected sense of onslaught and fierce 
hatred and contempt in Mark's voice. 


In answer to Mark, there came a slow and very weak moaning from 
Jamsie. It gradually picked up in speed and volume, growing higher in 
pitch and deeper in resonance. Jamsie's body shook and vibrated 
beneath the leather straps holding him to the cot. 

"Or are you a secundo of Jesus also?" Mark continued in the same 
deadly tone. "A real secundo of his triumph? Traitor and Father of 
Lies, promiser of vain victories? Are you also broken by . . ." 

Mark got no further. His gibes had hit home. Through Jamsie's open 
mouth all present in the room could now hear distant and mincing 
words, each one peeled out of some acidulous throat, licked by a 
contemptuous tongue, and thrown in a leisurely and deliberate fashion 
at their ears like sharp darts of scorn. They all felt that scorn. And they 
all feared. 

"Clot of mud. Little puppy of fucking animals. Talking beast. 
Praying with one end and excreting with the other. Depending on 
mercy. Asking for forgiveness . . ." 

The contempt was like burning acid to those listening. 

". . . smelling like a dunghill. Rotting into a juicy cadaver. Be 
silent! Retire! Leave this animal to us, the Most Hi-i-i-i-i-i-i-gh . . ." 
The one syllable of the last word was strung out in a long note that had 
a wailing quality of regret. Mark noted it, and took the only way out: 

"Declare yourself, in the name of Jesus!" A long pause. Jamsie's face 
was bloodless, drawn. The young priest was about to say something 
when that voice spoke again. 

"We have never yielded to any power. And we will never ..." 

"Then we will begin the exorcism, the cursing out of you, the 
expulsion of you and all of you in the name of . . ." 

"No-o-o-o-o-!" Again, that long-drawn-out wailing note. The voice 
had lost its contempt. There was a sudden urgency in it, almost a 
craven note. 

Mark had broken a hole in the attack, he knew, and he jumped in 
with both feet. 

"Your name!" Mark's command came before that long wailing "No" 
was finished. 

"Names are for . . ." 

"Your name! By the authority of Jesus' Church, your name, I say!" 
Mark was not shouting, yet his voice filled every part of the room. 

"We are . . ." Again the wailing note, but this time with a 
growl-like resonance. "We are all of the Kingdom. No man can know 


the name. We are alllllllll ..." The ''1" echoed and echoed until it 
finally died away. 

"What shall we call you then?" Mark was still insistent. "In Jesus' 
name, what name will you obey? In Jesus' name, what name will you 

"Multus-a-um. Magus-a-um. Gross-grosser-grossesste. Seventy times. 
Seventy-seven Legion. All . . ." 

"Multus? Shall you obey this name, in the name of . . ." 

Mark was interrupted by Jamsie. He was suddenly awake, his eyes 
wide open and bloodshot, his body pushing against the straps, his legs 

"Sit on his legs," Mark said. The two assistants did so. 

"UNCLE PONTO! UNCLE PONTO!" Jamsie was screaming at the 
top of his voice with a desperation that froze them all. "UNCLE 

Mark drew back and thought quickly. 

Jamsie continued blabbering incoherently. Then, in a lower tone, as 
if wearied by his recent efforts: "Yes . . . thought you were after my 
. . . no, please . . . don't do that and . . . night . . . radio with Jay 
Beedem . . ." 

Mark was thinking. He turned away. The others could see his face 
cloaked over in a withdrawn look. For a few seconds he seemed to be 
elsewhere, to be totally abstracted from the situation. Then he 
rounded unexpectedly like a whiplash, his voice rising in anger. 

"Multus! Multus! Answer us in the name of Jesus. Answer! Answer! 
By dismissing Ponto! Answer!" Mark waited for a moment. Then he 
repeated his command. 

"Answer! By dismissing Ponto! Answer!" 

Jamsie's eyes clouded over, his head fell back, his body went limp. 
Mark had his answer. He knew: to all intents and purposes Ponto was 
gone; he was now dealing directly with Ponto's "superior." Mark's aim 
now was clearly to get all the information he could from that 
"superior," to find out in particular as much as he could about the 
tangled lines of the attempted possession of Jamsie and thus clear the 
way for a successful expulsion of the evil spirit. Multus, like all evil 
spirits, could not stand the light of truth. 

The doctor pried open one of Jamsie's eyes, felt his pulse, and 
nodded slowly, warningly to Mark. 

Mark fired out a series of questions. 


''When did you start working on Jamsie?" 

"He was chosen before he was born." 

"When did he know you were after him?" 

"He knew long before he knew he knew." 

"How did you gain entry to him?" 

"He wanted it. Those who might have taught him otherwise, we 
corrupted. But he chose to be entered. Only one opposed us." 


"He never knew him." 


"His father's father. He was given that role by . . ." The voice 
wailed away in the same regretful note of sorrow. 

"By whom?" Mark insisted. No answer. 

"By whom?" Mark repeated the question, and added: "Or shall I 
tell you by whom?" 

"By that Person who is beyond notice by us. By the Claimer of all 
adoration. By the one who never received and will never receive our 
adoration . . ." 

"Did you make Jamsie see the 'funny-lookin' face'?" 

"No. His protector. We would never frighten him away. We are 
more powerful than that. It was his protector trying to warn him." 

Now the tone had changed. A new truculence had entered it. Mark 
heard it and whitened. He had presumed too much. The voice 
continued gratingly. It was as if the owner of that voice saw Mark's 
discomfiture. A hail of sharp questions rained down on his ears, and his 
mind started to boggle under the weight of the images they evoked. 

"Do you think you have escaped us, Mushroom-Souper? Do you 
think that one of these filthy whores didn't change you? How many 
times have you lusted after them? Remember the Harlem house and 
the seventeen-year-old? Remember when she shoved her pussy at you 
and you saw the black hair glistening on those tawny thighs? 
Remember your hard-on? Ha! Ha! Priest! You fucking priest! You little 
burning cock! Ha! Ha! Your prayers were of no avail then. And your 
Virgin with her lily-white conception was of no avail. Or did you 
remember to tie the rosary around it and hold it down? Remember! 
Remember? Remember your wet dreams? We do. So we do. And 
you do! Don't you think a bit of you belongs already to us? 

Mark was beaten temporarily. He staggered back. And then he saw 
Jamsie: both eyes open, his mouth split in a wide, full-toothed grin. He 


was listening and laughing. Mark got the message. Ponto and his 
"superior" were leaving. 

The young priest tapped Mark on the shoulder and pointed to the 
window. Thin pencils of sunlight were pointing in from the outside. 
Another bright and hot day had started. 

Mark heaved a sigh. Another half hour, he thought, and he would 
have nailed down the "superior." "Okay. Let's wrap it up for now, 
until tonight." He had recovered his nonchalance. "We meet at 10:00 
p.m. sharp. Get some rest. Tonight's the night." 

Then they did what they had done each day before this. Mark 
recited the Anima Christi. Afterward, he went upstairs and said his 
Mass. The four assistants took turns watching over Jamsie. In an hour 
or so after that, he woke up with no memory of what had happened 
the previous night. 

On the last night of the exorcism Mark had a plan to precipitate 
events if Ponto delayed very long in coming. He had a trump card up 
his sleeve. There was a certain risk in playing that card; and in what he 
proposed to do he was incurring dangers on himself as well as on 

But the alternative was almost as stark and forbidding. Jamsie was 
getting progressively weaker in his resolution to undergo the rite of 
Exorcism, to resist, to survive. He could collapse completely at any 
moment. He could, indeed, fall into a comatose state as a prelude to an 
early death — Mark had known such cases — or he could emerge in a 
state of complete shock. In either condition, Jamsie would be 
inaccessible. And Mark himself would be left forever with a nagging 
doubt about Jamsie's fate. There would be no way of knowing if he 
had become one of the perfectly possessed, immune to any touch of 
therapy, isolated from any saving intervention, trussed, mummified, 
and locked away safely by the evil power that possessed him perfectly. 
Or if he had gone insane in a strictly psychological sense of the word. 
In any such condition it would be impossible to know how much he 
perceived of the other world, or if he could pray and exercise his belief 
and thus cooperate with God's grace for ultimate salvation. 

Mark fervently wished to avoid the dubious and dangerous charac- 
ter of such an ending to the case of Jamsie Z. 

Mark's trump card lay in a fact that had emerged during his routine 
inquiries about Jamsie and his general background. 

Jamsie had been baptized at home by his grandmother over the 


kitchen sink. Pie had been born in a very weakened condition. The 
attending doctor had despaired of his survival, and his very pious 
Armenian grandmother had baptized him, because she feared the 
priest would be too late. From what Mark could find out, there was a 
reasonable doubt that jamsie's baptism had been valid. 

jamsie's grandmother had known very little English and she 
certainly did not know the words of baptism in English. It was she who 
had poured water over his baby head. But, it appeared, the Irish 
midwife who was helping Lydia, Jamsie's mother, in the childbirth, 
had pronounced the words of Baptism. 

If this were so, then the Baptism had indeed been invalid. The same 
person who pours the water must pronounce the words. Otherwise, no 
Baptism of that kind is valid. The baby is not baptized, has not become 
a Christian. 

To create even further doubt, the parish priest, who had finally 
arrived much later, never bothered to correct the doubt and baptize 
Jamsie provisionally. Such "conditional baptism" is usually conferred 
in such cases. But, for whatever reason, apparently this had not been 

Now Mark proposed to baptize Jamsie. Instinctively, as an exorcist, 
Mark knew that the "rejection" of Evil Spirit implied in Baptism of an 
adult was something a mere "familiar" could not handle. The 
"superior" would have to intervene in a new way in order to protect 
the common interest of "familiar" and "superior" alike. 

And then it was Mark's object to attack the peculiar bond between 
the "superior" spirit and its "familiar" spirit. That much done, Mark 
would no longer have to deal secondhand; he would have the 
"superior" in the open — not temporarily as in the previous sessions, 
but as the "responsible party," so to speak. From then on Mark could 
handle things as in a more "normal" exorcism. 

Having spent, therefore, one hour waiting for Ponto to come, Mark 
had Jamsie lie down on the cot, where the assistants strapped him 
securely. He now proceeded with the Baptism, Jamsie answering all 
the queries which are put to an adult person about to be baptized, 
reciting the Creed and making other professions of faith. 

This went on for a short while in relative calm, until Jamsie broke 
orf in the middle of a sentence. His voice changed, and he said quickly 
to Mark: "He's coining back. He's in a terrible state." 

Uncle Ponto was obviously with Jarnsie. Mark's plan had worked 
that far. He and his assistants listened to one end (Jamsie's) of a bizarre 


conversation and tried to guess what was said at the other end (Uncle 

"I will not have you in my life." Jamsie was looking over to the door 
of the room. He was silent for a few seconds. Then he spoke in a 
waspish tone. "What happens on Jupiter and what I could do with 
much money — a million bucks — is all hogwash. I want to be left ..." 

Now Jamsie was looking at the ceiling, now at the window, now 
over toward the door again. "That won't help at . . ." His face 
flushed with anger. "But why should I be afraid to die? Others have 
had to go." 

Mark and the others continued to listen in silence. Evidently Ponto 
was in a bad state. 

Jamsie broke in: "Mark says Jesus said you're a goddamn liar 
and ..." Interrupted, Jamsie looked over in the corner and scowled. 
"I'll talk about what I damn well please, and listen . . ." 

Then something happened of an abrupt and quite unexpected 
nature. Jamsie's eyes grew larger, the whites of the eyes shone. His 
face seemed to cave in, to lose some substantive strength. He shrank 
back on the couch, into himself. 

Mark was by his side in an instant and laid his hand in Jamsie's. It 
was a prearranged signal between the two of them. Jamsie had time to 
press Mark's fingers lightly, then he started weeping and sobbing. 

"It's no use." His fingers let go of Mark's hand. "It's no use. I'm 
finished. He's back. They're all back." 

Mark took the crucifix and started immediately. When he did, 
Jamsie seemed to go to sleep suddenly, his jaw sagging, spittle running 
down his chin. 


"Mushroom-Souper!" The words were pronounced with a velvet 
smoothness, but icy cold. 

"Multus! Answer us. It is you and no one else?" 

"Mushroom-Souper, you ludicrous little pigmy. We have our mark 
on you. All this hocus-pocus will not keep you or him that be- 
longs ..." 

"Multus! Answer us!" Mark had the spirit where he wanted it. 
"Jamsie's 'familiar' is Ponto. Why do you say he belongs to you? Who 
are 'us' then?" 

"You smelly ones walk around in bodies of slime and mud and 
muck. You say one, two, three, four hundred, seven million, a trillion. 
Ha! Ha-Ha!" 


"Multus! Is Uncle Ponto you? Are you Uncle Ponto?" 

"We are spirits. There is no one, two, three, four, hundred, seven 
million, a trillion. We are kinds and species. We are spirits! Powers. 
Dominations. Centers. Minds. Wills. Forces. Desires." 

"Answer in the name of the Church. Answer the questions of Jesus' 
authority. Are you Uncle Ponto?" 

"Yes! Ha! Ha! No! Ha! Ha!" The laughter froze the blood in the 
listeners' veins. It was a rollicking sneer of contempt, no fun in it, no 
humor. Then: "Ponto is us without the intelligence of the Claimant." 

There was a trap ready to spring on Mark. But Mark knew better 
than to ask who the Claimant was. Claimant, Master, Prince, 
Leader — it all came down to one being: the supreme intelligence of 
evil which had led and which leads all intelligences in revolt against 
the truth of God. Mark never felt in all his life that he wanted a direct 
tussle with that personage. Deep instinct of his own limitations held 
him back from such a step. 

Instead, Mark pursued his urgent quest of uncovering the relation- 
ship between Uncle Ponto and the Shadow. "But Uncle Ponto uses his 
own intelligence on his own account." 

"Never." The definitiveness of that word hit them all. 

"Ponto's intelligence is subordinate to you." 

"Always." The answer was a stony blow. Imperious. Curt. 

"And Ponto's will?" 

"Those who accepted, those who accept the Claimant, have his will. 
Only his will. Only the will. Only the will. The will of the Kingdom. 
The will of the will of the will of the will of the will ..." The voice 
faded down from a curt, domineering tone to a sniveling, breathed 
whisper and died away. Mark detected the sudden influx of fear in it. 

The young assistant priest also caught that note of fear, and, in a 
kind of victory yell, he leaned forward with a sudden ebullience: "Hit 
them hard, Mark!" 

Mark rounded on him, his eyes blazing. "Shut your mouth!" 

"That is right!" came the mincing tone. "That is exactly right! But 
our quarrel is with you, Priest! We have years to deal with this little 
virgin and to show ..." 

Mark broke in. "You will speak when questioned. Only then. And 
you will tell us in the name of Jesus," Mark thundered, his annoyance 
with the young priest's mistake filling his voice and channeled at the 
spirit, "you will tell us: Jay Beedem, has he consented to your power?" 

There was complete silence. Only Jamsie's breathing could be 


heard. Mark had never met Beedem, but he figured oddly in Jamsie's 
story, and Mark's nose caught a strange scent there, even from a 
distance. He needed to know if there was an essential connection 
Beedem had with Ponto or with his "superior" that affected Jamsie. 

"Jay Beedem," insisted Mark. "You will tell us when . . ." 

"No." It was summary and definitive. "We will not tell you 
anything, Priest." Silence again. 

"By the authority of the Church and in the name of Jesus, 
you ..." 

"That Church and that Person have no authority over Jay Beedem. 
He is ours. Ours. Ours. Ours. The Kingdom. Ours." 

Mark drew a deep breath. This was not new for him, but it always 
gave him a sinking feeling to find out that someone was protected by 
summary evil, protected even from the touch of grace. He knew better 
than to pursue the subject. Once before, about ten years before, he 
had tried. And the onslaught that ensued had interrupted the exorcism 
(which someone else had to start all over again and finish), and left 
Mark literally dumb and deaf for about five weeks. Something vital 
had almost died in Mark that time. He had challenged Evil Spirit on its 
own secure ground. 

He switched to another tack. "Your funny-looking face: what was 
the purpose of that?" 

"The funny-looking face was not our doing. We do not frighten 
those we prospect." 

"What result was effected by showing Jamsie that face?" 

"By it, his protector wished to acquaint him with the face all take on 
who belong to us . . ." 

"Was it this," Mark interrupted almost involuntarily, "that stopped 
Jamsie at the reservoir? That face?" There was no immediate answer. 

Mark got the faintest hint of something strange happening to the 
others in the room. He glanced quizzically at his young priest; his face 
was beaded with perspiration. Mark paused. 

Then all four assistants flung their hands to their ears, their faces 
screwed up in expressions of pain. 

"Mark, for the love of God, get them to stop that whistling!" the 
doctor was shouting at the top of his voice. "It will stun us." 

He and the other three started to moan in pain; then all four were 
shouting and screaming, their heads and bodies turning this way and 
that, backing away from the cot where Mark stood beside Jamsie's 
inert body. 


Mark took a step toward them, but quickly withdrew. He tried 
again, and again withdrew. Every time he stepped outside a certain 
invisible circle around the cot, his ears were assailed by the most 
horrible and deafening hail of high-decibel sound. 

As his four assistants writhed and withdrew slowly, they were 
looking at Mark, imploring help. He made animated gestures to them 
indicating that they should keep backing away. They did so until 
finally, within a foot or so of the back wall near the door of the room, 
all four suddenly stopped writhing in agony. Their faces lost the lines 
of pain and concentrated effort. 

They looked at Mark finally as though across a huge distance filled 
suddenly with silence and fog. While Mark could see them clearly, he 
could not hear them at all. On their side, they could only hear Mark 
and see his lips moving and his hands gesturing in a distorted fashion. 
It was like looking through frosted glass into a sunlit room; they saw 
everything, but unclearly. 

Rooted to the opposite side of the room with their bodies to the 
wall, it was through this weird medium that his four assistants saw 
Mark's final settling of Jamsie's exorcism. It was a shadow play of 
horrors for them. 

They saw Mark's figure turn partially away from them to face 
Jamsie's body on the cot. They saw Mark lift the crucifix. They saw his 
lips move and at first heard nothing. Then, as from a great distance 
and through a low, rumbling noise like a continuous avalanche of 
pebbles down the side of a mountain, they began to hear his voice. 

". . . shall be as we bid, because it is in the name of Jesus that we 
bid you answer us. Was it the face that stopped Jamsie from suicide?" 

Another voice, the one with the mincing words, broke through in a 
guttural tone, sharp, decisive, cold, inimical. "Are you interested in 
that funny-lookin' face, Priest? Would you like to see it yourself?" 

"Answer our question," was Mark's rebuttal to that invitation to be 
curious. "Answer it!" 

"Yes. Ye-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-es." The voice was grating out the sounds 
grudgingly. "It was that face. We are always present when inferiors 
are about to make a killing." 

"So every time you were present, Jamsie's protector endeavored to 
let him see that face?" There was no answer to this. 

Mark went to another point. "Why did you allow Jamsie to see the 
. . . the . . . the Shadow?" Mark stumbled over that one, and then 
regained his composure. There had been moments in his own life when 


he had been about to make some important decision and, he now 
realized with a little shiver, there had been some sort of shadow 
present. He had always put it down to something else. But the wisps of 
memory disturbed him now. Those moments had been during his 
bouncy, jaunty days, his "scenario" days, when everything had to have 
a logical and describable cause, and it was all very simple. 

"We did not. Notnotnotnotnotnot." The word was a thump of 
sorrow and regret and dreadful aching. Mark felt it. He went on, 
pressing his questions, still holding the crucifix high. 

"Why did a common look exist between the Shadow and Uncle 
Ponto and Jay Beedem and the pimp and many others; why did a 
common look exist?" 

Mark could see a change in Jamsie that his four assistants could not 
see through the haze that kept them apart. Jamsie was now wide 
awake, but his eyes were not on Mark. They looked up to his left. 
Mark was careful to note this, but he kept looking steadily at Jamsie. 
He repeated his question. He was getting closer. 

"Why the common look? Is this another part of your evil stupidity?" 

"Beyond our control." The words came with difficulty. "We also 
. . . must submit ... in material things, we . . . also bound . . . 
Person beneath contempt holds . . . holds . . . holds . . . holds 
..." The voice started to get slurred. "Ho-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-l-l-l-l-l-l- 
dsdsdsdsdsdsdsdsdsdsds" The voice died away in an angry buzz until 
there was no more sound. 

"Why the common look?" Mark kept staring at Jamsie, looking for 
any hint or clue in his reactions. 

Still pinned to the opposite wall, Mark's assistants were suddenly 
horror-struck. They shouted and screamed in warning to Mark. He 
could not hear, but continued to face Jamsie. 

At first what they saw seemed vague, a bulky shape, rearing up 
behind Mark, much like a cat standing crookedly on its hind legs, front 
paws lifted, claws open and spread-eagled, ears flattened against its 
head, mouth opened to hiss. 

They heard the distorted rumble of Mark's voice as he continued 
the exorcism. There was nothing they could do but watch and pray. 

"What do you place in those human beings so that they get that 

And the voice came rasping out in a slow, steady tone: "Obedience 
to the Kingdom. They give their will. We fill the soul. What's inside 
peers out willy-nilly . . ." 


Jamsie, still strapped down, had raised his head from the bed to 
stare at the threatening form behind Mark. It was constantly weaving 
back and forward, turning from left to right as if seeking something. 
But to Jamsie it was less like a cat and more like a man swathed in 
heavy, black clothes. Mark, intent on watching Jamsie, did not follow 
the direction of his gaze. 

"You have to come out." Mark began his final pounding at the spirit. 
"You have to manifest yourself and leave this human being. In the 
name of Jesus!" 

The assistants, all still at bay, could see both faces — Jamsie's and the 
darksome figure's — contorting at this moment. "And not only you, but 
your inferior and slave, your Uncle Ponto. Him and all who go with 
him. Out! I say! Out with all of you." 

Mark's assistants were now in utter panic. All they could see was the 
menace to Mark from behind him. They tried to move forward against 
the excruciating rain of sound. 

"We will never rest until we avenge ourselves on you," the voice 
was saying, "we will leave this miserable blob of muck dead when we 

go ;!' 

"Life and death are not yours to give or take. They belong to Jesus." 

Jamsie started at that moment to scream, wild hysteria in his voice. 

Mark's ears were filled with that scream; he held the crucifix and 
prayed out loud, using only two words: "Jesus! Mercy! Jesus! Mercy! 
Jesus! Mercy! Jesus! Mercy! Jesus!" 

Then his ears were hit by the agonizing screams of the four 
assistants: they had left their sanctuary-prison against the opposite 
wall, had penetrated the space between the wall and the cot where 
Mark stood beside Jamsie, and were once more writhing under the 
impact of the torture that stabbed at their eardrums. 

But even through the din of Jamsie's shouts and his assistants' 
screams, deepened by his own praying, chanting voice, Mark heard 
one sound that reassured him and gave him hope. 

It was the rattling of the pebble avalanche that had never really 
ceased, but now became more defined. It was a hubbub of wordless 
voices and senseless syllables all running together and splitting each 
other in fragments, interrupting and fractioning and changing each 
other, an undistinguishable medley of sorrow, regret, foreboding, 
agony. It persisted in rising and falling waves, then started to build up 
and up to a crescendo. 


Mark took his cue: it was the confusion of defeat and rout. He 
hurled the words of his power at it all. 

"In the name of Jesus! You must depart! Unclean ones! There is no 
room for you! No dwelling in this human being. For Jesus has 
commanded: Go! And you go! Go! Go!" 

Mark remembers clearly stopping at this point. He did some quick 
thinking. By now the possessing evil spirit should have been suf- 
ficiently weakened and Ponto's grasp on Jamsie sufficiently diluted for 
Jamsie to make his fatal and all-important choice. 

Mark bent down near Jamsie's ear, speaking in a gentle, firm tone. 
He remembers almost word for word; it was the choice that always 
came in some way. "Jamsie! Jamsie! Jamsie! Listen to me: Now! You 
have to choose! You have to make a choice! Either you take a step in 
trust. You renew your faith. Blindly, mind you, blindly. Or now you 
yield to Ponto and to all of Ponto's friends. Jamsie! All of them, Jamsie! 
In the name of Jesus, choose! Now choose, Jamsie!" 

In his turn, Jamsie recalls that at this moment he woke up to the 
confusion around him. Gradually, as in a thinning haze, he began to 
make out dim figures besides the Shadow behind Mark, and he saw 
zigzag gestures, the ceiling and the walls of the room; he felt the 
pressure of the straps across his chest, middle, and legs. His mouth was 
dry, he remembers, but he was breathing easily. 

Farther away from the bed, he could not see anything except as a 
fuzzy gray-black background — the closest comparison Jamsie can give 
to describe that blurry background is what he saw when he once tried 
on the very powerful eyeglasses of a friend who was almost blind. 
Everything blurred together and seemed to darken. 

Closer, he could see the figures of the assistants as they held their 
ears and struggled with that deafening whistling noise. One was 
staggering. Two had fallen to the floor. One was standing upright, 
moving slowly and agonizingly toward him. 

Still nearer to him, he could see two or three single figures, together 
with a multitude of shapes and forms. Ponto was there, but some 
infinite distance away. Jamsie could not understand this: Ponto was 
near, yet far. He seemed to be all squeezed together as if his body was 
boneless and someone had caught it in an invisible clothes wringer 
narrowing his girth, splaying his limbs, bulging his eyes. And his look 
was no longer merely importunate and mischievous. For the first time 
it was nasty, Jamsie felt, nasty, bitter, hating, desperate all at once. 


Ponto's agony seemed to be multiplied by a whole river of forms and 
shapes — torsos without heads, heads without bodies, arms and legs 
without a trunk, fingers without hands, toes without legs, bellies 
without a body, genitals floating free, long plaits of gray and yellow 
hair — all wreathing and snaking fitfully, aimlessly around Ponto in 
zigzag tracery. 

Closest to him of all, except for Mark, Jamsie saw the Shadow. It 
loomed up above him with a superhuman stature. It was neither black 
nor gray nor white but an indefinable amalgam of shifting darkling 
shades, much like the smoke from wet coals — never still or calm, but 
ruffled and rippling irregularly. Head, shoulders, hands, mouth, eyes, 
feet were clear enough to be perceived, but not clear enough to be 

Jamsie heard Mark's voice then, gentle, firm, finalizing. 

"Jamsie! Now is the time to choose. Remember! I told you. You! You 
choose. You have to choose. Of your own free will." 

Somehow or other, Mark's voice was reaching Jamsie in spite of the 
din and the distracting gyrations and febrile jumping of all those 

"Choose! Choose! Yours is the choice. Now!" Mark's unhesitating 
syllables clung to Jamsie's memories. 

Jamsie could not see Mark's face as Mark bent down to speak in his 
ear, but the Shadow's features were clear. A kaleidoscope of expres- 
sions passed over that face. Jamsie began weakly to remember. Where 
had he seen this expression? That expression? The next one? The last 
one? They all seemed different, yet they all seemed to be the same. 

Then Jamsie realized that the various changing expressions were 
repeating themselves over and over again, coming and fading and 
returning in a carousel set to the din and shouts and screams. 

"Choose! Choose!" 

It was Mark's voice again. Jamsie turned. He tried to make out 
Mark's face. He could not. From forehead to chin Mark seemed to be 
faceless. But he still heard Mark's voice. 

Then his memory began to clear. The expressions became more 
familiar. Yes . . . yes . . . that was his father's, Ara's . . . and 
that one Uncle Ponto's . . . the pimp's . . . Jay Beedem's . . . Jay 

"Choose! Jamsie! Choose!" 

Then, interspersed with the changing faces, Jamsie began to see the 
other funny-looking faces he had seen in all the years back to his 


childhood, i960, 1958, 1957, 1949, 1942, 1941, 1940, 1939, 1938, 1937, 
1933. And he began to see that his fright for all these years had been a 
form of fascination, that even while running away from the "funny- 
lookin' faces," he had been inviting them, that he had wanted to be 
found by them! 

Inside his deepest self another movement started, beyond his 
willing. The desire to be rid of that fascination. But there was still the 
agonizing fear and doubt. "If I stopped looking at that carousel," 
Jamsie today describes his feelings at that point in the exorcism, "I felt 
I would cease to exist. I would die, die, die sort of thing." 

Then his fascinated gaze faltered and flicked away from the carousel 
of faces for an instant over to Mark's face. 

Mark was no longer faceless for Jamsie. He did not have the features 
Jamsie knew as Mark's. Still, Jamsie knew, they genuinely belonged to 
Mark. Another puzzlement for Jamsie. 

He peered at Mark, staring at the eyes and the nose and mouth. The 
colors of his face were beginning to glow and shimmer in old gold, in 
tarnished silver, faded blue and brown and yellow. Jamsie half-feared 
to find some phase of the "funny-lookin' face" on Mark, but there was 
none. And he had no fear or fright. Another emotion, other thoughts 
were coming to Jamsie. 

Mark's voice reached him again. "You must choose, Jamsie." 

Jamsie glanced again at the Shadow. In all its bulk and in every 
weaving curve of its changing face and figure there was now a certain 
cringing. Jamsie read hesitation there, even as he found himself 
fascinated always by the changes. 

Jamsie began to look back and forth from the Shadow back to Mark, 
then at the Shadow, slowly at first, then quickly. And Mark's insistent 
"Choose. Make your choice, Jamsie!" came to him again and again. 

Suddenly he understood. He was free. No one would force him. No 
one could. He was free — to go on immersing himself in the changing 
horrors of the Shadow, or to look at Mark and make an opposite 

He started to gaze steadily at Mark; and in that look he knew he was 

There were no words on his lips. He had no sentence in his brain, no 
concepts in his mind about that choice. He was choosing, merely 
because he chose to choose; and, choosing thus, he was freely 

And as the thrust of his choice gathered strength within him, he 


began to recognize the new lines and shades in Mark's face: all the 
traits of goodness and joy and freedom and welcome he had ever 
known in others — Lydia and Ara of years ago, Lila Wood, the old icon 
at home in New York — all were there as so many frames, as mirrors 
reflecting an immense beauty and joy and peace and unshakable 

Slowly Mark's features became clear, Mark's solid features, tense 
and granite-like, his eyes closed, his hand still raised holding the 
crucifix. The Shadow was receding like smoke from a cigarette being 
dissipated in the air. And with it all the noise and din was fading away 
weakly into silence. 

Over Mark's face there was a film of fine suffering drawn tight like 
gauze. Jamsie was stung with compassion. Mark had said to him: "If 
we get rid of the Enemy, Jamsie, I will be the last to feel the lash of his 

Mark had lost sight of Jamsie by then. He was in his own travail, his 
own agony, his own payment of pain. 

It was the young assistant who described the change in Jamsie. 
There was no more hint of struggle. A great calm filled Jamsie's 
features. Mark's voice still boomed, even though the noise had died 
away. Mark was repeating again the two words: "Jesus! Mercy!" 

The young priest knew that Jamsie was free at last. He unbuckled 
the straps that held Jamsie down on the cot. 

"Mark!" Jamsie shouted to the exorcist as he rose up from the cot. 
"Father Mark! I'm free!" Jamsie touched Mark on the arm. "Father 
Mark!" He took Mark's hand and felt the icy cold of those fingers. He 
stood a few moments waiting. 

Then finally Mark lowered the outstretched arm which held the 
crucifix. His eyes lost the glassy stare; he blinked and Jamsie saw the 
look of recognition returning in Mark's eyes. And Mark saw in Jamsie's 
eyes and on his face an expression of peace and lively hope which had 
never been there since he had known Jamsie. 

The Rooster 
and the Tortoise 

It was 6:00 a.m. exactly by the clock tower in the Piazza della Liberta 
of Udine when the party of eight Americans left the hotel in two 
limousines. Everything in their trip had been planned down to the last 
detail in timing and ceremonial. 

The date was July 23, and already they felt the high summer heat. 
Within 15 minutes they had made their way through the narrow 
streets past arcades and porticos, out of the city, and were on the 
undulating road down through the coastal plain. Now and again, when 
they crested a hill, they caught glimpses of the Adriatic Sea as a 
glinting blue band on the horizon. To the far north stood the Alps, 
white and on guard. 

Their destination was the village of Aquileia (population 1,500) 
some ten miles south toward the sea. For Carl, the leader of the trip, 
this was to be a homecoming: long ago he had lived, suffered, and 
triumphed in Aquileia. For Carl's seven companions, it was a 
pilgrimage to a venerated shrine. 

The two men riding with Carl in the first limousine were his friends 
and associates; the woman, Maria, had been his assistant for four years. 
The four college students in the second limousine were psychology 
majors and Carl's student assistants. Besides being a highlight in their 
studies, the trip was a mystical celebration for them. 

In the first limousine, Carl led the conversation in jubilant tones: 
"We are on the brink of discovering what Christianity was like before 
the Greeks and Romans distorted it." He was a thick-set man in his 


late forties, of medium height, with close-cropped, coal-black, curly 
hair and beard; high rounded cheekbones beneath a high forehead, 
eyes not merely black, but shining black, like polished agates. He had a 
Roman nose, long, straight, with a slight hump in the middle. The lips 
were full and sat over a strong jawline. He was tanned and 
healthy-looking. He wore a light suit over an open shirt. 

As he spoke, he gestured quietly to emphasize his meaning. The ring 
on his right index finger flashed in the morning sun. It was a wide gold 
band adorned with a gold image of a tortoise. He toyed with the two 
emblems of an ancient Roman god, Neptune, a dolphin and a trident, 
which hung on his neck chain. 

Carl was a qualified psychologist, with a prior degree in physics. His 
studies had led him into parapsychology and research concerning the 
nonordinary states of human consciousness. Under the impulse of his 
personal gifts as a psychic, he had been experimenting in astral travel 
and reincarnation. 

After 11 years of intensive work, he was going to Aquileia 
accompanied by associates and students. For here, as he and the others 
had learned a few months previously during one of Carl's trances, he 
had lived some 1,600 years previously during a former existence as a 
public notary named Petrus. In that trance, which had taken place 
under controlled laboratory conditions, Carl accurately described not 
merely ancient Aquileia — its amphitheater, forums, public baths, 
palaces, quays, cemeteries, triumphal arches, and shops. He had given 
a detailed account of how the fourth-century citizens of Aquileia had 
reerected a public statue of Neptune which a religious sect had 
overturned in the previous century. Some weeks after that seance, 
news had come independently from Aquileia telling precisely of such a 
statue and of a Latin inscription backing up Carl's statements. 

Carl had also given details of a mosaic floor that was part of a 
fourth-century Christian chapel. And he added something piquant 
which fascinated his associates and students: a description of a very 
ancient ritual that used to be performed by Petrus and his companions 
at one particular spot on that mosaic floor. 

The purpose of their present trip was to reenact that ritual on July 
23, the summer festival of the god Neptune. 

Now, in the first limousine, Carl was again describing that particular 
spot and the ritual. The spot was a mosaic medallion depicting a fight 
between a red rooster and a brown tortoise. Apparently Petrus and his 


companions — "Christians of the original kind," Carl commented — 
used to come and stand in single file to the right of the medallion. 
Then, one by one, they used to step on the Rooster (symbol of the 
intellectual pride and imperial power-madness which "had corrupted 
genuine and original Christianity"), then kneel, and looking at the 
Tortoise (symbol of immortality and eternity), pronounce the Latin 
formulae: Ave Dorninus Aquae vivae! Ave Dominus immortalis qui 
Christum fecisti et reduxisti! (Hail, Lord of Living Water! Hail, Eternal 
Lord who made Christ and took him back.) 

It was this corrective religious aspect of Carl's experiments and 
researches that had attracted the interest and attention of many — in 
particular, of the group accompanying him this morning. 

Norman was reared a Lutheran, but in his late teens had rebelled 
against the traditionalism and conservative beliefs of his church. He 
became convinced that Luther was a wanton rebel and Lutheranism a 
mere sixteenth-century invention having very little to do with the 
original teaching of Christ and the first Christians. 

Albert, Carl's second associate, was a former Episcopal priest. After 
three years in the ministry, he took up studies in psychology, 
convinced that his church was no longer speaking the language of 
modern people and no longer delivering the original message of 
salvation Christ had preached. 

Of the four psychology majors, the group riding in the second 
limousine, two were Catholic — Donna and Keith; one, Bill, was 
Jewish. Charlie had been baptized in the Presbyterian Church, but 
had converted to Judaism two years previously. All four had been 
educated in the prevalent idea of their time that Western Christianity 
was a product of Greek philosophy and Roman legalism and organiza- 
tion, and the churches were shams and false representatives of the 
genuine church of Jesus. 

The group's plan for this morning was quite simple. Without any 
fanfare or fuss, they intended to stand around Carl while he reenacted 
that ancient ritual over that particular medallion in the ancient floor of 
the cathedral. They had a tape recorder and movie camera. All Carl's 
words and gestures were to be recorded on tape and film. Norman, a 
close and longtime associate of Carl and a fellow psychologist, was to 
act as monitor: at each stage he would announce into the recorder 
what was happening during the visit, even as it was being filmed. They 
half-expected Carl to be able to uncover further evidence of Petrus 
and his ancient fellow believers. As psychologists, Carl and his 


companions hoped to obtain some new insights into the parapsycholo- 

gical from the experience. 

Four and a half miles south of the Venice-Trieste freeway, they 
entered Aquileia. Everything was drenched in blinding sunlight. All 
colors were fused into the brightness of the day. Circumstances were 
favorable for Carl that morning in Aquileia. All trace of modern life 
and activity was dormant. On that summer festival of Neptune, the 
god of the sea, as they made their way slowly toward the cathedral, all 
living humans were asleep and hidden, as if Neptune had spread his 
net over them. Even the dogs and chickens were still asleep. A solitary 
cat licked and preened itself on a rooftop in the shadow of a chimney. 

Maria touched Carl's hand, smiling. He responded to her expression 
of satisfaction with a quick smile, but he said nothing. They were all 
gazing out at the village streets as they rode toward the square. 
Houses, taverns, shops became indistinct shapes in the haze of heat 
and light. For those with eyes to see, this twentieth-century time 
frame was now transparent. In the boiling quiet they sensed the 
presence of ancient gods, of lisping shades, and of all those who once 
walked there in their pride, their sorrow, their loves, and their defeats. 

The village was almost incongruously dominated by the huge 
cathedral and its spired campanile. Aquileia, a 2,000-year-old city, was 
once the fourth most important Roman city in the world, after Rome 
itself and Capua and Milan. 

Then joined to the Adriatic by six canals, it was the only city outside 
Rome empowered to strike its own coins. The capital of a strategically 
and economically vital province, it was famous for its theater and its 
religious festivals, its celebration of mysteries, and its curative waters. 
It was the meeting place of Roman emperors, popes, synods; residence 
of its own patriarch; prized by German and Austrian kings; fought for 
by Slovenes, Huns, Avars, Greeks, Franks, English, Danes. 

Now Aquileia is an obscure little farming community off the beaten 
track, a forgotten and inconsequential village not shown on general 
maps, and described by sardonic clerics in Rome as "a cathedral with 
some streets attached to it." 

Carl's party drove directly to the cathedral; they had made 
arrangements with the guardian. As they got to the door, the student 
assistants began the "experiment." Donna started the movie camera, 
and Bill started the tape recorder. All was set. Every one of them was 
tense and expectant. A certain air of happy quest descended on them. 


Their course now was to enter the cathedral, walk down its central 
nave, turn right at the sanctuary, and descend into the ruins of the 
fourth-century chapel. 

Carl's behavior changed the moment he stepped out of the 
limousine. He was no longer smiling and relaxed. He had that "look" 
his associates had come to know so well — his eyes heavy-lidded and 
almost closed, the head lifted, hands hanging by his sides, and on his 
face a special glow of absorption and reverence they had come to 
associate with his "trances." There were hints of ecstasy and happiness 
at the corners of his mouth. The utter calm of rapture seemed to 
descend on him: his forehead and cheeks were utterly smooth, free of 
wrinkles and lines, as if the skin were suddenly made young again or 
drawn tight by an invisible hand. 

But the general expression of his whole face was abstracted and 
bloodless. There was no hint of a personal expression, no indication of 
a word about to be pronounced or of a passion about to erupt, neither 
confidence nor fear, neither welcome nor hope of welcome, neither 
compassion nor expectation of compassion. 

And around the eyes, in a way none of his associates and students 
could ever explain, there was what they had come to call the 
"twist" — some crookedness, some wry misshapenness, as if the natural 
contours of skull, forehead, eyes, and ears had been splayed out of 
kilter by some superhuman force residing in him temporarily with 
tremendous and awe-full power. It was ungainly and uncomely but 
accepted by those around him as inevitable, Carl always referred to it 
as "my divine suffering." For his theory — or rather his belief — was 
that during psychic trances a human being with an "open soul," as he 
used to phrase it, was "taken over," was "possessed" by the 
superhuman. The merely physical frame of that human being was 
overwhelmed — suffered, in that sense — by the inrush of silent divinity. 
The thin wall of reality separating the divine and the human was 
temporarily breached, and the human was "marinated" in the divine. 

Now all waited. Carl had to move and talk. There must be no 
outside interruption, no external stimulus. The minutes ticked by. 
They still had not moved from the entrance. Carl's lips moved, but 
there was no audible sound. Then he shifted his stance, turning slowly 
in a half-circle, first toward the sea six miles away, then in the 
direction of Venice in a southwesterly direction. As he turned, he had 
a questioning expression on his face. He seemed to be waiting. 


Thev heard scraps of words and sentences: ". . . the fourth canal 
. . . Via Postumia . . . must have the integral number of . . ." 

But his voice sank to a whisper and died away completely by the 
time he was facing in the direction of Venice. On his face, there was 
now a look of thunder and bitterness. His lips were working furiously 
as if in heated argument or commentary. But they heard nothing. 
Again he turned around, to face the cathedral door. 

"Now 0800," recorded Norman. "Carl is moving into the cathedral. 
His right hand is raised in salute, palm turned outward." 

Carl's face was calm again. His lips had ceased to move. They 
entered a great golden-brown sea of silence, sunlight, and color arched 
over by the stone ribs of a roof that curved and soared away out of 

Then Carl headed straight down the 110-foot nave. Sixty-five feet 
wide, the floor was one whole ocean of mosaics flanked by solid 
columns on either side; it ended in a semidomed apse where the high 
altar stood. The sun's rays were pouring in through the nave windows 
and slanting down upon the expanse with dovetailing shafts of light 
and shadow. Dust shimmered in paths of light, flecking the air with 
colors of the mosaics and the surrounding walls, red, yellow, ochre, 
purple, orange, green. 

For three-quarters of the nave the little group walked solemnly and 
steadily over that magic flooring teeming with designs of garlands, 
birds, animals, fish, ancient Romans, all glowing with deep tints and 
sophisticated forms. 

Carl made only one detour: when he reached a particular medallion 
set in the floor, he paused. His lips were moving again: ". . . weak- 
ness ... to prefer death to strength . . . prostituting humility of this 
weak ..." Then in staccato repetition under his breath he uttered 
the old Roman words for Rome's cruel strength: "Virtus, virtus, virtus, 
virtus ..." 

Norman glanced at the medallion. "Carl is circling this mosaic of the 
Good Shepherd," he recorded. 

Carl's own voice tapered off with whispered tones of disgust: 
"... braying donkey . . . Alexander's god ... a braying 
donkey . . ." 

After this, Carl walked on calmly until he reached a broad mosaic 
band bevond which they saw a composite picture of the sea. The 
ancient artists had depicted boats, fishermen, fish of all sizes, sea 


serpents, dolphins, and a recurrent theme: Jonah, the Old Testament 
figure, in the mouth of a whale. 

Carl's behavior became erratic at this point, and his face again 
mirrored anger together with confusion and contempt. He drew back 
with a low hiss of breath, his body almost crouching. Then he bobbed 
his head from side to side, as if seeking an exit between dangerous 

Norman recorded, his voice stumbling as he followed Carl's 
changing course. "Carl is moving to the left. Slowly . . . now to the 
center, now to the right — no, he is moving leftwards again, stepping 
on a Jonah medallion." Then in an aside to Donna, who was still 
filming all of Carl's movements, "Move over in front of him, Donna, 
move up front, please." Donna did so. 

Painfully, with sudden stops and cautious steps, Carl made his way 
up to the steps of the sanctuary. As Donna directed the camera at him, 
his eyes were wide open and blazing with an anger Donna had never 
seen in them. "Carl is turning back," Norman continued to record. 
"He is going toward the tunnel door." This tunnel led down to the 
fourth-century chapel over which the present cathedral was built in 
the eleventh century. 

Donna was the first to reach the rectangular floor of the ancient 
chapel. She photographed the arrival of Carl, Norman, and the others. 
Carl now walked unerringly forward, but bowed his head several times 
as if acknowledging presences the others could not perceive. 

The floor was another elaborate mass of Roman mosaics — pheasants, 
donkeys, fruits, pastoral figures and scenes, flowers. Carl did not stop 
until he reached a wide band of orange marble which ran the width of 
the chapel. 

"Carl is standing at the orange band," Norman continued his 
recording. "Beyond it are many geometric designs." 

After about 30 seconds, Carl's behavior changed. His face lit up. His 
head was lifted high. Both hands were outstretched. He stepped across 
the orange band and walked straight to a medallion lying just beyond 
the geometric designs. This was the spot where the ancient ritual was 
to be enacted. The medallion showed the Tortoise glaring up at the 

Carl's companions gathered around the medallion. Donna stood 
opposite Carl, the camera directed straight at him. "Carl's hands are 
joined, palm on palm, at his chest," Norman whispered into the 
microphone. "His eyes are closed. This is it." 


No sooner had Norman said this than Carl opened his arms to full 
length on either side of him; he raised his head until his eyes were 
directed upward behind closed lids. His companions began to hear half 
words and syllables of that ancient incantation he had come to recite: 
"... aquae viv . . . immortalis . . ."But he seemed to gag or stutter 
when he reached the word "Christum. " He never fully pronounced it. 
It came out as "Christ . . . Christ . . . Christ . . ." (rhyming with 
"grist"). And as he stuttered over that first syllable, his voice got 
louder and louder, and his breathing became faster and more labored. 

"Here, Bill, take the mike," Norman safd quickly, "but hold it so 
that we can still catch my comments and his words." He had been 
instructed by Carl that, if there were any unforeseen block or 
difficulty, he was to take Carl lightly by the hand and guide him in on 
top of the Rooster. 

Carl was still stuttering: "Christ . . . Christ . . . Christ ..." 
Donna at her camera noticed the white foam gathering at the corners 
of his mouth. Norman reached out to take Carl's right hand in his. 
"God!" he exclaimed in a loud whisper, "his hand is like ice." 

Carl was now struggling. He had ceased speaking. He was like a 
man trying to forge ahead and walk against a strong, buffeting wind. 
His hand trembled in Norman's, and his whole body vibrated in his 
effort to push onward, to step on to that Rooster in the mosaic 
medallion. His lips were drawn back over his teeth in the effort. The 
skin on his face tightened and whitened; and although he no longer 
spoke, there started in him a low moan like a man expelling his breath 
in a vast, heaving attempt to push past an obstacle. 

Norman felt the icy cold entering his own fingers and hand, 
deadening all feeling there, loosening his grip on Carl. 

The moaning rose in volume, changing to a growling, then increased 
in volume again until it resembled the shouting of a man through 
clenched teeth. Norman had let go of Carl's hand by now and was 
standing back, confused and dazed. The others had drawn back a few 
steps in apprehension at this unexpected turn of events. Carl was now 
alone, still facing Donna across that medallion. 

At the height of that peculiar muffled shout from Carl, a change 
seemed to come over him; and the shock was too much for Donna. 
Suddenly, it seemed, what had been buffeting Carl closed in around 
him like an invisible cocoon. Some unseen bonds and wrappings 
tightened around his entire body, squeezing and narrowing him, 
binding him in a crunched fashion and bending him down lower and 


lower to the ground. He seemed to diminish in size. The expression of 
effort and straining rage on his face was replaced by a look of crushed, 
broken helplessness, almost of infantility. It was the look of one trying 
to draw into the smallest possible diameter of his own body. 

Donna still held the camera in operation, but she whispered in 
panic: "Somebody help me! Please! Quick!" Nobody budged; they 
could not take their eyes off Carl. He was whining in an up-and-down 
fashion, as if pain and struggle had emptied him. It was a protest 
against agony. All this became too much for Donna. The camera slid 
from her fingers to the floor. And the last shot taken of Carl shows him 
bending forward, his hands locked tightly across his chest, his head 
twisted to one side, eyes closed, his tongue between his teeth, and an 
expression of resignation, defeat, and repose on his face — the same 
that many have seen on those who have been garroted or drowned. It 
was an emptied-out look. 

The clattering fall of Donna's camera broke the frozen fascination of 
the others. Bill and two students finally rushed to help Donna. Norman 
and the others lifted Carl up. As they did, his body relaxed from its 
rigid posture and he was carried limp and unconscious out into the 
open air. 

All were perspiring and shaken. Carl's body was cold. They poured 
some drops of whisky between his lips, and he began to recover. After 
a while, he breathed normally and opened his eyes. 

"Carl," Norman spoke quietly, "Carl, it will be better if we go on to 
Venice now." 

A little over a week later, back in New York, Carl was far from all 
right. Even after a few days rest in Venice and Milan, and the long 
flight home, Carl was still in a dazed condition that none of his 
associates could understand. He was no longer the commanding, 
self-possessed, and self-confident leader he had been. He ate and slept 
fitfully, talked very little, canceled all his scheduled appointments. 

Carl seemed to be reliving again and again the scene in Aquileia, 
always in the same way: he muttered and talked, sometimes strode 
around the house and garden reenacting each step of that disastrous 
morning. And always, at the crucial moment, he went into the same 
queer seizure. It was Donna who remarked one day that he seemed to 
her to be trying to carry the Aquileia incident past that difficult 
moment at the medallion. 


Finally Norman and Albert called Carl's father in Philadelphia. Carl 
was taken home. A long rest was prescribed by the family doctor. 

There was no suspicion in anyone's mind that Carl was possessed or 
in the process of possession, until one night when only Carl and his 
father were sleeping alone in the big house. His father was suddenly 
wakened from sleep. Carl stood by his bedside, crying quietly. He 
spoke very clearly, although not all he said seemed coherent to his 
father. He evidently wanted help from a priest. He named him: Father 
Hartney F., who lived in Newark, New Jersey. And Carl wanted his 
father to call the priest then and there. It was after midnight, but 
his father was sufficiently alarmed to call the priest. Father was out, his 
housekeeper said; she would give the message to him when he 

Carl's father had just hung up when there occurred one of many 
peculiar apparent coincidences that marked the case of Carl V. The 
telephone rang. The man's voice at the other end was level and 
pleasant. He announced himself as Father F. Yes, he would like to see 
Carl; that was why he was calling. No, he was not in New Jersey; he 
was in Philadelphia. No, he had not been contacted by his house- 

"Mr. V., I must ask you to trust me as a man and as a priest. I have 
something to say to your son which is for his ears only." His father 
looked at Carl, then handed him the telephone. Carl appeared to 
listen, tears flowing, his face drawn. All he said was "Yes" a few times; 
then a slow "Tomorrow. All right." He hung up and, without looking 
at his father, turned slowly away and left the room. 

Carl spent three weeks in New York with Father F., for a first round 
of pre-exorcism tests. He was back home by late August. During 
September and October he commuted frequently from Philadelphia to 
Newark and New York. At the beginning of November the exorcism 


Although there are many in the field of parapsychology who deplore 
the disappearance of Carl V. from their midst, very few are acquainted 
with the circumstances in which he finally renounced all research and 
study of this very modern branch of knowledge. Carl was already a 


brilliant psychologist when he turned to parapsychology. Many who 
knew him and his gifts predicted that he was the right man in the right 
place at the right time doing exactlv what needed to be done. They 
could see the premature termination of Carl's career, therefore, only 
as unfortunate, a loss to the cause of true humanism. 

Carl was not only very intelligent. He apparently possessed to an 
eminent degree some psychic gifts that are highly valued nowadays 
and the object of much research, such powers as telepathy and 
telekinesis. He found, in addition, a suitable academic location where 
he could exercise and study those gifts. Within that ambient he was 
surrounded by men and women of talent, students of ability and 
acumen. And, to cap his potential, there were two or three major 
events in his personal life that placed him in a category all by himself. 

There was first a vision he had had as a teenager. There was, too, 
unexpected support of his general ideas about parapsychology from an 
unusually reputable quarter with the appearance of Aldous Huxley's 
book The Doors of Perception in 1954. In addition, Carl himself 
enjoyed altered states of consciousness at various levels for almost ten 
years (1962-72). As early as J 965 he began to have constant 
perceptions of the "aura" surrounding objects—the "non-thing aura," 
as he called it. Finally he achieved his first "exaltation" (his own term) 
in 1969. 

In retrospect, Carl himself now assumes that, while his "exaltation" 
had a definite psychic character, at its core it was the threshold of 
diabolic possession. 

But in the meanwhile, what gave a particular cachet to Carl's career 
was the scrutiny of admiring colleagues who were applying their 
scientific principles precisely to such phenomena as altered states of 
consciousness, visions, astral travel, telepathy, telekinesis, reincarna- 

What added a new dimension in Carl's case and in his own work 
was the authentically religious bent of his mind. Carl V. did, indeed, 
set out to find the truth about religion, Christianity, in particular. And 
the combination of psychic gifts, the extraordinary progress of what 
seemed to be his personal powers, and his religious leanings all gave 
him a peculiarly commanding appeal in the late 1960s and early 1970s. 
For in the decadence of organized and institutional religion people 
had begun to switch their active interest to parapsychology as a 
possible source of religious knowledge and even of wisdom. 

Indeed, as far as human judgment can go, we can only surmise that 


Carl should have achieved much in his chosen field if his life had not 
been upset hv diabolic possession and the consequent exorcism. 

There was little that distinguished Carl either from his two brothers 
or from his school companions during his early childhood. His family 
had plentv of monev and enjoyed considerable influence in their 
hometown of Philadelphia. The family was Mainline Protestant and 
worshiped at the Episcopal church. Carl's gro wing-up was not 
particularly difficult. No misfortunes or tragedies hit the family. 
Neither the Depression nor World War II affected it very adversely. 
Carl did well in school and at sports. He traveled a good deal with his 
family, visiting Europe, South America, and Hawaii at various times. 

The first manifestations of any extraordinary psychic gifts came 
slowly, and only gradually did his parents realize that Carl had 
capacities beyond the ordinary. When Carl was between seven and 
eight, they began to notice that when, for instance, his father or 
mother were looking for something — a newspaper, a pen, a glass of 
water — more often than not Carl would appear almost immediately 
carrying what they needed. 

They put this down to coincidence at first. But then it became so 
frequent and, at times, so eerie that they set out to determine whether 
it was merely coincidence. After some weeks of close and discreet 
observation, they concluded that Carl did know in some way or other 
what they were thinking at times. 

They might have brushed even this aside if they had not one day 
overheard his brothers asking Carl to bend some nails. Obligingly Carl 
bent and twisted two one-inch nails by "feeling'' them with his index 
finger and thumb. 

Carl's father consulted a psychologist. A long series of discussions 
followed. Carl was brought by his parents to that psychologist, to 
another psychologist, and to a psychiatrist. The unanimous decision, 
after some testing, was that the child had incipient psychic gifts of 
telepathy and telekinesis. They maintained that he should not be made 
to feel out of the ordinary. His parents should endeavor to get him to 
recognize his gifts as nonordinary and to restrict their usage. 

The difficulty with all this decision making behind Carl's back 
totally escaped Carl's parents and even the psychologists. For, without 
realizing fully its implications, Carl knew what they all thought and 
knew their decision. In a subtle recess of his child's mind he decided to 


go along with the entire plan. But from that day on there began in him 
that "aloneness" that marked him in later life. 

Carl obeyed his father's suggestion that he bend no more nails, that 
he no longer tell people what they were thinking, and that he take no 
more initiative due to any telepathie knowledge he had of their wishes. 
Bv his eleventh year, as far as his parents eonld see, all manifestation 
of psyehie powers seemed to have eeased in his external life. 

But, in reality, Carl had now got a command over these powers in 
himself that no one realized and that he guarded almost as a jealous 
and lonely secret. Only occasionally did he slip. In a fit of temper he 
might smash a cup in another room or shout at a companion some 
boyish insult to match the insult the boy was about to launch. 

In spite of this continued connivance on his part, Carls excellent 
relationships with his father and mother were genuine. In later years, 
after his parents divorced, Carl remained closest to his father. 

As the eldest child, Carl was looked upon by his two brothers, 
Joseph and Ray, with something approaching awe. The three of them 
had an intimacy and openness with each other that lasted beyond 
childhood. It was within that framework of boyhood intimacy that he 
told Joseph and Ray of his vision at the age of sixteen. 

From their accounts and Carl's recollections, it appears that the 
vision took place in his father's librarv one evening as Carl was 
preparing his homework. He glanced at the clock. Dinner was served 
punctually at six o'clock each evening. He had, he saw, one minute to 
go, just enough time to find a particular volume of the Encyclopaedia 
Britannica and open it to the article he needed for his written 

After he found the information he was looking for, his consciousness 
underwent a peculiar change. He was not frightened; instead, the 
change put him in what he describes as a great hush. He no longer saw 
the book in his hand or the shelves of books in front of him. He no 
longer even felt the weight of the volume in his hand. He did not feel 
the floor beneath his feet. But he did not miss them. They seemed no 
longer necessary. 

He did not perceive all this directly. Only on the periphery of his 
consciousness was he aware of perceptual changes and of his lack of 
any need for physical feeling of his surroundings. His attention was 
riveted on something else, something totally different from, but in a 
mysterious way intimate to, all his experience up to that moment of his 

334 THE cases 

It was, first of all, an atmosphere. There was much light, but, he 
says, a dark light. Yet, that darkness was so brilliant that no detail 
escaped him. He was not looking at something or at a landscape; he 
was participating in it, so clear was every detail shown and conveyed 
to him. What he saw was dimensionless: no "over there," no ''up" or 
"down" or "large" or "small." Yet it was a place. Objects were in that 
place, but the place was nowhere. And the objects located in that 
space were not found by coordinates, or seen by the eye, or felt by the 
hand. He knew them, as it were, by participation in their being. He 
knew them completely. Therefore, he knew what they were and where 
they were. And even though they had a relationship to him and to 
each other, it was not a relationship of space and distance and 
comparative sizes. 

Not only was normal spatial dimension in abeyance as nonextended 
time. It was not that time seemed to be suspended. There was no time, 
no duration. He was not looking at the objects for a long or a short 
time — it could not have been seconds. Neither could it have been an 
infinity of hours or years. There was no sense of duration. It was 
timeless. Yet he did clearly, if indirectly, perceive a time. But it was, 
again, an internal time and seemed to be the total existence of himself 
and of all those objects without perceptible or receding beginning, and 
without an ending or an approaching ending. 

As for a description of that landscape and the objects "in" it, Carl 
could only speak vaguely. It was a "land," he said, a "countryside," a 
"region." It had all you would expect — mountains, sky, fields, crops, 
trees, rivers. But these lacked what Carl called the "obscurity" of their 
counterparts in the physical world. And, athough it had no apparent 
houses or cities, it was "inhabited": it was full of an "inhabiting 
presence." There was no sound or echo, but the soundlessness was not 
a silence, and the echolessness was not an' absence of movement. It 
seemed to Carl for the first time he was freed from the oppression of 
silence and rid of the nostalgia produced in him by echoes. 

As he took all this in, or as he was embraced by all this — he could 
never distinguish exactly which was a truer way of speaking — there 
was in him a sudden desire. That desire had a purity and a sacred 
immunity that freed it of any aching and did not imply a want in a way 
we normally understand. It was a summary appeal, but without 
request. It was desire as its own confirmation. It was substantial hope 
as its own trust. Yet it was desire. He would describe it at times as a 
"Show me!" or a "Give me!" or a "Take me!" or a "Lead me!" arising 


in him. But, he said, none of these expressed the bones and marrow of 
that desire. And over all his desire and desiring self there was an 
all-satisfying acceptance and acceptability. 

Then the whole focus of his vision changed. It was the highlight of 
his real wonder. He was listening to a small voice and seeing a face he 
cannot describe. He heard words and saw expressions he cannot put 
into language. The dominant trait of the voice and face was expressed 
by him later in the word "Wait!" He did not know what that "Wait!" 
meant or what he was to wait for. But the whole idea was intensely 
and deeply satisfying. 

Carl does not know if the vision would have "lasted" and carried 
him farther or not, for he was suddenly jerked out of it. "You've 
exactly one minute to finish." It was little Ray. "Hurry up!" 

An immense sadness welled up in Carl at that moment, an 
indescribable sense of loss. He saw the cold books, the long, hard 
shelves, and his little brother's face. He felt the volume in his hands 
and the floor beneath his feet. He glanced at the clock. It was one 
minute to six o'clock. 

As he hurried to his table, he had tears in his eyes. But, afterward, 
he could not make out whether they were tears of pain or thankful- 
ness. He never knew. 

Before going to bed, he confided in Joseph and Ray. "Perhaps it was 
Grandma telling you something," Ray suggested helpfully. Their 
grandmother had died the previous year. "No," said Joseph, "it was 
from God. They told us in Sunday school that God sends these things 
to show you what's going to happen." 

Carl often wondered subsequently about this unique event in his 
life. What was he to wait for? Who or what had been talking to him? 
What had he been so desirous of at that moment? But, in spite of these 
questionings, the vision remained in his memory with a sweetness that 
nothing could dispel. And it made one subtle difference in him which 
many noticed but few understood. In his own mind it separated him 
from all others. He was never quite "with" others, never fully together 
with them. At parties, dinners, meetings, lectures, he would see 
himself essentially separate from the others and on the sidelines. 

He was, indeed, waiting. Only years later did he know what it was 
he had been told in the vision to expect. 

Carl entered Princeton in 1942, got his master's degree in psychol- 
ogy in 1947, his doctorate in 1951, spent six more years studying and 


doing research. Four of those years saw him in the United States and 
two in Europe. He returned only in 1957, to take up a permanent 
teaching post on a Midwest university campus. In those 15 years, from 
1942 to 1957, some major changes took place in him. 

The first and probably one of the most important was due to the 
influence of a fellow student, a Tibetan, Olde by name, whom Carl 
met in 1953. Olde gave Carl a firsthand introduction to "higher 
prayer," as Olde called it. 

Olde had been born in Tibet, reared there until the age of ten, then 
educated in Switzerland and Germany, and had come to the United 
States for doctoral studies. He claimed to be a member of an ancient 
Tibetan religious order, The Gelugpa ("The Virtuous"), and that he 
himself, as his father before him, was one of the sprulsku or 
reincarnating lamas. 

Olde's first personal conversation with Carl took place when Carl 
happened to hear Olde reading a precis of the thesis he was writing. 
The subject was the relationship between Yamantaka, the god of 
wisdom, and Yama, the god of Hell Carl asked in all innocence why 
statues of Yamantaka always showed the god with 34 arms and 9 
heads. Olde's answer, a seeming nonsequitur, struck a strange echo in 
Carl. It was one answer Carl never forgot; 

"The more arms and the more heads Yamantaka is seen with, the 
more you can see the other. And only the other is real." 

The other? The other? The other? Didn't he know the other? What 
or who was the other? 

Carl looked at Olde. And he understood quietly without effort: each 
extra arm, each extra head was meant to make nonsense, literally, of 
an arm and a head as a real thing. Any thing, an arm, a head, a chair, a 
leaf, any thing in itself was unimportant, was significant and real only 
because of an other, the other. Thingness was in itself a negation. It 
was the non-thing that mattered, because only the non-thing was real. 
And he seemed to see also that this was why, ever since his vision, he 
had had a tendency to withdraw, to remain on the sidelines, away 
from involvement with things, removed from being wholly occupied 
with their thingness. 

In a gentle dawning within him Carl felt a surge of the same sadness 
that had gripped him when little Ray had burst in on him years before 
and his vision had been rudely terminated. "It [that moment with 
Olde] was the most maturing moment of my life up to that point," 
Carl muses in retrospect today. For, during it, he felt again not only 


that sadness, but his ancient boyhood desire, felt all the pains of 
nostalgia as a most acceptable suffering, and at the same time heard 
again down the corridors of his memory that still, calm, reassuring 
"Wait" replete with its promise and guarantee of fulfillment. 

Carl and Olde saw much of each other. And before long Olde was 
initiating Carl into "higher prayer." From his own family life and 
Sunday schooling, Carl had learned the ordinary modes of prayer. It 
consisted of set prayers, hymns, and the occasional spontaneous 
self-expression used during grace at meals or when he prayed in 

Olde overturned all Carl's ideas and habits. Words, he said, and, 
even more importantly, concepts impede "higher prayer" and all true 
communication with what Carl as a Christian called "God" and what 
Olde called the "All." Carl, he said, would have to train himself for 
"higher prayer." 

Day after day, Carl sat beside Olde, while Olde trained him in the 
basic attitudes of body and "tones" of mind. The conditions of body 
were simple to grasp. Quietness (early morning before sunrise or late 
at night when no sound disturbed the campus), elimination of any 
distraction — a comfortable sitting position, loose clothes on his body, 
as little light as possible. But all this and the steps still to come were 
merely preparatory and temporary. Olde explained that, if Carl 
progressed, he would leap definitively over all physical difficulties to 
"higher prayer." And he would be able to "pray" while surrounded by 
20 jackhammers pounding away in the middle of a bronze-walled 
room. (This was Olde's image.) 

Carl quickly attained the required physical quietude and concentra- 
tion. The next steps took time — and they ushered Carl to the threshold 
of parapsychology. As Olde explained it, Carl had to be clear and 
clean of any "thingness." It was easy for Carl to understand how to 
void his imagination of images, how to close off his memory so that no 
memory images passed in front of his mind, and how to eliminate even 
the most peripheral image consciousness of his body position, of the 
clothes on his body, of the warmth or the cold of the atmosphere 
around him, of his own breathing. But for quite a while he balked at 
the ultimate step. Olde instructed him that at this point he might go 
around in circles forever and never get any farther at all. Most people, 
in fact, did just that. 

The ultimate step was to eliminate his own conscious realization 
of — therefore his concepts and images of and feelings about — his very 


condition at that moment of prayer. For a long time he had no control 
over his mind to keep himself from realizing he was emptying his 
mind; and he had no control over his will, with which he kept desiring 
to empty his mind. It all seemed a vicious circle. You disciplined your 
mind to think no thoughts, your imagination to indulge in no images, 
your feelings not to feel. And you did this by your will. But then, it 
appeared to Carl, his mind was full of the idea "I must have no 
thoughts." His imagination kept seeking images of itself without 
images. His feelings kept feeling that they had no feelings. Around and 
around he used to gyrate until he emerged tired and strained and 

"Don't give up," Olde consoled him. He told him it could be worse 
and that he was sure Carl would one day find the secret — a mere, a 
tiny, an almost unnoticeable adjustment. "When you make it, you will 
know." He repeated these same words again and again to Carl. 

But for quite a while Carl made the summary mistake of trying to 
make the "adjustment." He did not and could not know that, if you 
made that peculiar "adjustment," you simply made it. Not with your 
mind, not with your will, not with your imagination or memory, but 
you as a thinking, willing, imagining, remembering self. All your 
thingness suddenly of itself became a transparency through which the 
non-thing, the other, clearly appeared. And once through that stage, 
you entered a shadowless, formless, thingless region of existence where 
only reality reigned, and your unreality, your thingness had no vogue, 
no role, except as the counterpart of allness. 

The moment Carl achieved that condition of "higher prayer," Olde 
abruptly terminated their association. "Now, when you want to pray, 
really to pray," Olde concluded his instructions, "you know how to do 

It was Carl's last year at Princeton as a doctoral student. He had 
more leisurely years of study and research in front of him before he 
took up a university career. He was avid to go on under Olde's 
direction; and as Olde was staying on as lecturer and researcher at the 
university, Carl could see no problem. 

But Olde would have no more of him. Why? This was Carl's 
question to Olde as they walked over the campus in the early 
mornings. Why? 

Olde would say very little. He had, he admitted, introduced Carl to 
the Vajnayana, "the thunderbolt," the vehicle of mystic power. But no 
persuasion on earth would get him to channel Carl further in 


Mantra y ana, the vehicle of mystic spells. "What I have done is 
enough," Olde grunted. Then as an afterthought: "What I have done 
is dangerous enough." 

Carl still could not understand. He persisted, asking Olde to explain 
or, if he could not explain, at least to suggest a direction for hirn. 

Finally one day Olde seemed to have no more answers. Every soul, 
he said, which turns to the perfection of Allness is like a closed- 
petaled lotus flower in the beginning of its search. Under the direction 
of a master or guide, it opens its eight petals slowly. The master merely 
assists at this opening. When the petals are open, the tiny silver urn of 
true knowledge is placed in the center of the lotus flower. And when 
the petals close in again, the whole flower has become a vehicle of that 
true knowledge. 

Looking away from Carl, Olde said gratingly, almost inimically: 
"The silver urn can never be placed at the center of your flower. The 
center is already taken by a self-multiplying negation." A pause. 
"Filth. Materiality. Slime. Death." 

Carl was stunned, literally struck dumb for an instant. Olde walked 
away from him, still without looking at him. He was about five paces 
away when Carl broke down. He could only manage a choking 
exclamation: "Olde! My friend! Olde!" 

Olde stopped, his back to Carl. He was utterly calm, motionless, 
wordless. Then Carl heard him say in a low voice and not particularly 
to him: "Friend is holy." Carl did not understand what he meant. 

Then Olde turned slowly around. Carl hardly recognized Olde's 
features. They were no longer the soft traits of his friend. Olde's 
forehead was no longer a furrowless expanse as before, and his eyes 
were blazing with a yellowish light. Harsh lines crisscrossed his mouth 
and cheeks. He was not angry. He was hostile. That picture of Olde 
was burned into Carl's memory. Olde said only this to Carl, words 
Carl could never forget: "You have Yama without Yamantaka. Black 
without white. Nothingness without something." It was the last time 
he ever spoke directly to Carl. 

As Olde turned away again, Carl had a sudden reversal. He seemed 
for a few instants to be absorbed in "higher prayer." His surge of 
frustration and anger gave away to contempt and disgust for Olde. 
Then as he looked at Olde's retreating back, he was filled with a 
warning fear of Olde and what Olde stood for. Somehow Olde was the 
enemy. Somehow he, Carl, made up a "we" and "us" with someone 
else, and Olde could not belong to it. 


"Enemy!" he suddenly heard himself shouting alter Olde. 

Olde stopped, half-turned, and peered over his shoulder at Carl. His 
face was back to its usual repose. His forehead, cheeks, and mouth 
were unruffled and smooth. His eyes were calm, wide open, just gentle 
deeps of impenetrable light, as they usually were. The compassion in 
them hit Carl like a whip. He did not want anybody's compassion. He 
took a step back, wanted to speak, but could not get any word out of 
his throat. He backed away another step, half-turning away, then 
another step and another half-turn, until he literally found himself 
moving away. He told himself he had walked away, but deep in 
himself he knew he had been repelled, had been turned around and 
propelled away. 

Apparently Olde too had his own protectors. 

His association with Olde had important effects on Carl. Given his 
psychic gifts, it was almost inevitable that Olde's introduction to 
Eastern mysticism, with its emphasis on the parapsychological, would 
impel Carl down a road of research in the then relatively fresh field of 
parapsychology and the paranormal elements of human consciousness. 

Over and above all else, Carl's time with Olde had sharpened his 
extrasensory ability to perceive other people's thoughts. Before his 
instructions from Olde, Carl did not always know each and every 
thought of those around. More generally, he knew very accurately 
their state of mind — worry, happiness, fear, love, hate, and so on; and, 
on occasion, he knew precisely what they were thinking. Olde's 
discipline had brought that more precise part of Carl's extrasensory 
perception into greater use and control. He found it working more 
frequently with everybody. And soon he was exercising it at will. 

After his "training" with Olde, there were apparently only two 
people during Carl's university career who remained peculiarly 
"opaque" for him. He could never read their thoughts, and he rarely 
knew their inner condition. The first was a onetime girlfriend, Wanola 
F. The second was Father Hartney F. ("Hearty"), a priest who was 
sent by his bishop to study parapsychology. 

In 1954, one year after his break with Olde, Carl met Wanola P., a 
graduate student in psychology. A tall, blonde, attractive Midwestern 
girl, Wanola was a good sportswoman, socially quite popular. Curi- 
ously, it was none of these things that attracted Carl, but rather a 
mixture of her unusual intelligence, her point of view regarding his 
work on religion and the psyche, and, most of all perhaps, his own 


inability to get any clear extrasensory perception of what she thought 
or felt. 

As they began to date, Wanola got to know something of Carl's 
psychic gifts. She was fascinated by them, by his novel concepts, and 
his brilliant attack on various puzzles and problems of psychology. But 
as she got to know him, her fascination turned to compassion, and then 
to a fear for Carl's own sanity and for his religious beliefs. It was like a 
curious echo of Olde's reaction a year before, but it all went much 
more swiftly this time. And his rather brief association with Wanola 
left Carl puzzled. 

At times, Wanola spoke to Carl at length about some seemingly 
offhand remarks he made about "finding" Christianity in its "true" or 
"original" state. She remarked on his growing opinion of Jesus as a 
simple Calilean fisherman who had been powerfully changed by Cod 
and by his taking over of God's spirit. But mainly she grew to be 
disturbed by Carl's ambition to subject the very spirit of religion to 
controlled laboratory experiment. 

Finally one day, just back from a short vacation home to the 
Midwest, Wanola came to Carl's room straight from the airport. She 
had a simple bouquet of wild flowers she had picked herself before 
catching her plane. Curiously, Carl remembers those flowers in every 
detail, although he says that at the very moment Wanola entered his 
room and started to talk with him, his interest and attention were 
elsewhere. He does remember blue gentians, dogtooth violets, little- 
boys' breeches, starflowers, and Queen Anne's lace. 

But when Wanola walked in with them, Carl did not give her even a 
smile or a hello. He was brandishing a small book just published: The 
Doors of Perception, by Aldous Huxley. She remembers him blurting 
out the title. Then: "Huxley knows all about it! Mescalin! And I don't 
need mescalin!" 

Wanola listened to his long sermon on Huxley; and when she left, 
she took the bouquet of flowers with her. 

Carl had made a delicate choice; he had taken a step away from 
simple human tenderness. This he understood only after the exorcism. 
Wanola had understood at that moment. He called her from time to 
time after that day, but to his confusion she never would see him 

Carl's excitement over Huxley's book was enormous. He grasped 
immediately the central point advanced by Huxley: that the mind and 


psyche are capable of a knowledge and a breadth of experience of 
which men in our civilization have rarely dreamed. Living in our 
urban society, the human psyche has learned to siphon its energies in 
one direction — coping with the material and tangible world. Huxley 
made a plea in his book for the development of a psychedelic (literally, 
a psyche-opening) drug, nonaddictive and harmless in its side-effects, 
by which men and women could free their psychic energies and enjoy 
the full range of their potential. 

Carl, in the middle of his studies on dual personality, suddenly 
found in Huxley a window opened for him onto a new horizon. 
Perhaps, he now saw, what is often called a multiple-personality 
problem really was a case of psyche freed — particularly at least — from 
conventional bonds? Perhaps at least some so-called schizophrenics 
were really enlightened people for whom the shock of enlightenment 
has been too much? And perhaps such people exist in an altered state 
of consciousness with which they could transcend the material and 
tangible world around them, leap over the barriers of space and time, 
and enjoy genuine liberty of spirit? 

This was an important moment in Carl's development. What Huxley 
had attempted and, with the aid of mescalin, achieved piecemeal, Carl 
now aimed at achieving by developing and controlling his own psychic 

Thinking back, as he sometimes did, about the vision he had had as 
a boy in his father's study, he now saw that vision as a foretaste of 
what he could and should achieve: a perception of spirit, a participa- 
tion in spaceless and timeless existence reached by a parapsychological 
path. The aim of all Olde's instructions now appeared to Carl to be 
simply a liberation of the mind and will from any involvement with 
sensory experiences and material trammels. It was no wonder that 
Wanola's disappearance from his personal life gave him no sense of 
loss. In effect, she would have had to go, he concluded. There was no 
room in his life now for a personal attachment that would involve 
emotions and the physical presence of another human being. 

Although Carl's study of parapsychology had begun in 1953 through 
his association with Olde, it was about five years later that this interest 
took on a consistently religious character. After two years of study and 
research in Europe, he returned to the United States at the end of 
1957, in order to take up a post as lecturer in the Midwest at the 
beginning of 1958. 


It was an attractive appointment for Carl: it gave him a good deal of 
latitude for research. He found a small apartment not very far from the 
campus and was given perfect space for his professional needs in the 
department of psychology. There his life would be centered. He had a 
reception room, a study for himself, and, opening off his study, there 
was a room large enough for seminars, private lectures, and experi- 

By the following year, Carl was well settled and had attracted a 
small and enthusiastic group of assistants from among his better 

One evening, quite unexpectedly and while alone, Carl had the first 
of what he and his associates later called "trances." He had just 
returned to his office from dinner at a colleague's house. It was about 
7:30 p.m. He had a great sense of tranquillity and confidence. 

When he entered his study from the reception room, his eye fell on 
the window facing west. The sun had not yet set, but there were 
incandescent patches and streaks to be seen in the sky. The whole 
window space looked like a two-panel canvas painted in reds, oranges, 
blue-grays, gilded whites. 

Carl crossed to the window, and as he gazed at the sunset, there was 
a gentle but rapid transformation in him. His body became motionless, 
as if held painlessly immobile by an unseen giant hand. He was frozen, 
yet without any sensation of cold or paralysis. 

Then the living scene outside took on the same odd aspect of 
immobility and frozenness for him. Next, parts of the scene started to 
disappear. First of all, everything in the intervening space between the 
window where Carl stood and the sunset disappeared: quadrangle, 
buildings, lawns, the road, the trees and shrubbery. It was not as if 
they just remained on the periphery of his seeing. They altogether 
ceased to be there for him. If he were to look for them, he knew at that 
moment, he would not be able to find them. All seemed to have been 
plucked out of sight. And their disappearance seemed to him to be 
more normal than their permanency there in front of his eyes. For a 
moment he felt very much at ease, for all the bizarre nature of what 
was happening. 

And, of course, the distance between him and the sunset was now a 
formless vacuum after the disappearance of the objects on his 
landscape. There was nothing "between" him and the sunset, not even 
a gap, not even emptiness. He was no nearer to the sunset physically, 
yet now he was knowing it intimately. 

344 THE cases 

Finally the window itself faded. Carl, meanwhile, had been looking 
less and less at the eolors and hues of the dying sun; and, when the 
window frame faded, he was "looking merely at the sun," although he 
cannot express clearly in words the difference between those two 
sights or the obvious importance it had for him at that moment. 

Finally the viewed — what he was viewing — seemed to loom larger 
and larger in his consciousness, but he himself seemed to be 
diminishing correspondingly. Smaller. Smaller. 

A sudden panic arose in him that he, too, might "disappear" from 
his own consciousness, just as all the landscape had disappeared. That, 
he was sure, would mean nothingness for him. And, as the viewed 
loomed larger and more gargantuan in its weird nonphysical way, the 
more miserable and expendable he felt. 

At this low ebb in his feelings Carl experienced the initial stirrings 
of what he later came to call "my friend." He always insisted that this 
"friend" was personal — a person, but not a physical person. "It was a 
personal presence," he maintained. It did not seem to "come" to him, 
but to have been there all along; yet it was unexpected, and he had 
never noticed it before that moment. 

No words passed "between" Carl and his "friend," and no concepts 
or images that he was aware of. But he knew with absolute certainty 
he was being "told" that, unless he "nodded" or "gave approval," his 
progress into nothingness would be a fact. 

The anguish this possibility caused him was awful. Still, some aspect 
of that personal presence seemed "deficient," seemed to leave him 
with an option to say no. He had one brief, strange impulse to 
challenge the absolutist demand for consent now being made upon 
him. But a rapid confusion as strange as the whole incident dulled the 
impulse to fight: he did not know how to issue the challenge. In the 
name of what power would he "speak"? In whose name would he bear 
the consequences, and how could he survive them? He says now for a 
long time he had nourished no idea of aid or help or salvation, and he 
had "no one or nothing to turn to or call upon." He had been brought 
to nearly total aloneness, indeed, to the brink of nothingness. 

Easily, therefore, and with relief, he "nodded." He gave his interior 
approval. He still did not know exactly what this approval concerned. 

Immediately the sense of being reduced to nothingness ceased. 
Relief flooded his consciousness. Almost simultaneously he heard a 
voice calling from a great distance. 

"Carl! Carl! Are you all right? Carl!" 


The window "reappeared" and the landscape. The sunset "with- 
drew," and his vision was normal once again. 

He stirred and looked around. Albert, one of his young assistants, 
had a hand on his shoulder. Neither of them said anything for the 
moment. They waited until the sun was completely down. Then, while 
Albert listened, Carl sat down and dictated into his recording 

What now emerged surprised even Carl. He spoke of the entire 
trance as God-manifesting, as a religious experience. Turning to Albert 
at one stage, and still dictating, he declared that he now saw his life's 
work to be the finding of true spirit-life and an accurate knowledge of 
God and his revelation — all by means of parapsychological research. 

Carl's course was set. For the next five years he would work steadily 
and methodically, building his theories, testing and developing his own 
psychic powers, nourishing a group of students and assistants around 

In 1963 Carl became acquainted with the second person in his 
university career who remained "opaque" to his psychic perceptions. 
Father Hartney F. came into Carl's orbit almost ten years after 
Wanola P., almost eleven years after Olde. 

It was in the fall semester. Carl had just been made a full professor. 
Father Hartney F. (or "Hearty," as he was called by his friends) was 
the one member of the new class whom Carl could not quite 
understand or "grasp" psychically. As had been the case with Wanola 
P. a decade before, Carl's inability to get any "inner perceptions" of 
Hearty intrigued him. 

Hearty, however, looked completely normal, even innocuous. A 
large, bony man rapidly going bald at that moment of his life, and 
wearing thick-lensed spectacles, Hearty sat in the second row, looking 
at Carl intently and taking notes from time to time. He always wore a 
Roman collar and an impeccably clean black suit. During lectures he 
rarely stirred, looked around him, or asked a question. 

After Hearty's first term paper, which was no better and no worse 
than average, and would not normally have provoked special interest 
in Carl, Carl took the occasion to interview his "opaque" student. 

He found the priest to be at heart a very simple man with a better 
than average memory, robust health, thorough grounding in the basics 
of psychology, and an ambition to study parapsychology for what he 
called "pastoral purposes." Apparently he had convinced his bishop 


that a knowledge of parapsychology would be particularly helpful in 
working with his co-religionists and for understanding some of their 

Offhand and, as it were, by the way, Hearty mentioned to Carl some 
cases of diabolic possession. And he also spoke of Exorcism. At the 
time it seemed to arouse very little interest in Carl's mind. He brushed 
the topic aside into the back of his mind, so to speak, with some 
remarks about the need of updating beliefs and rites in the Church. 

Apparently having observed as much as he could or cared to after a 
fairly short time, Carl ended the interview with a brief criticism of 
some technical points in Hearty's term paper. 

But Carl remained intrigued, and he was not unsympathetic when 
two of his students, Bill and Donna, who were later to go with Carl to 
Aquileia, suggested that they bring Hearty into a special study group 
Carl had formed. Their argument was that the group needed a trained 
representative of some Christian community because one of the 
group's deeper objectives was to experiment with Carl's psychic 
powers and gifts in order to probe the past of Christianity. Now, 
Hearty was the only student in the department at that time who was a 
cleric and who was trained in theology. 

Carl decided to have another interview with this opaque cleric 
before inviting him into the study group. He asked his two assistants, 
Albert and Norman, together with the student members of the special 
group, to be with him. 

Hearty was a very easygoing man, very affable, a little slow to make 
up his mind. As Albert and Norman listened to Carl's questions and 
Hearty's answers, they had a growing persuasion that Carl was getting 
nowhere. Hearty was not resisting. He was not even being evasive or 
vague. It was just that, in spite of his perfectly frank answers to all the 
questions put to him, Hearty seemed to be immune to Carl's 
persuasion. And the reason for this was not any mental opposition on 
Hearty's part or any verbal clashes between the two men. It was 
something else. 

All present would probably have put the problem down to a 
fundamental difference in temperament between the two if it had not 
been for one unfortunate turn in their conversation, when Hearty 
seemed to take over the direction of the interview. Hearty wanted to 
understand what basis there was for assuming, as Carl seemed 
obviously to be doing, that psychic knowledge and psychic activity 
inevitably led to spirit. 


Albert conceded that it was a presupposition, but an acceptable 

Then Hearty wanted to know if that meant that psychic knowledge 
and psychic activity were under the direction of the spirit? 

Again, the answer was yes. 

Well, then, it seemed Hearty had still another problem: unless they 
claimed prior knowledge — which they didn't (of course not, they all 
acknowledged; wasn't that, after all, why they had study groups: to 
find out what they didn't know?), how could they be sure they were 
under the direction or influence of a good spirit? Or did they presume 
that all spirit was good? And if so, on what basis? 

These questions represented such a fundamental doubting of the 
position Carl shared with his group that the peace of the meeting was 
shattered. As one of those present recalled, up to that moment in the 
meeting "we had not known how pervaded our minds were with one 
outlook [Carl's]." It felt, for Albert and Norman, as if some accepted 
guest or some presence accepted among them had been insulted and 
had started to grumble in resentment. 

All of them started to question Hearty at one and the same time. 
Carl held up his hand for silence. He was perfectly calm, but his eyes 
were glittering and his face was very pale. Hearty's "opaqueness'' had 
become transparent to Carl, for only that time and only for those 
moments. Hearty was deeply opposed, Carl now understood, to all 
that Carl stood for. 

But Carl was cool; he was composed and self-controlled. All 
students, he admonished his assistants, were free. And all points of 
view were allowed. Moreover, Father F. (he stressed the "Father") 
had a professional basis for his opinion. 

Hearty quietly broke in to add that Carl, too, had a professional 
basis for his position. There was an unexpected silence. For that 
moment, some of the opaqueness of Hearty's psyche had been 
dispelled, but Carl could not quite make out what he perceived dimly 
in Hearty. Then Hearty "closed" up on him. He was "opaque" once 

Carl gave a deprecating smile and made a little gesture, as if to go 
on to explain the professional basis of Hearty's opinion. But he stopped 
and knitted his eyebrows. Every member of the group felt a new 
tension in that silence. Hearty looked steadily at Carl. 

Carl recomposed himself and looked pleasantly at Hearty. "And 


what, Father," Carl finally said, "is your professional basis? In short, I 

"Jesus. Jesus Christ, sir. As God and as man." Then, without 
pausing, Hearty asked lightly: "And yours, Professor?" 

Carl dismissed the query. Perhaps, he said, Father F. would become 
a subject for group study some day as he, Carl, had already become. In 
the meantime, they would table for the time being the motion of his 
entry into the special study group. 

The tension was gone. 

From time to time during the remaining two years of Hearty's 
studies, Carl racked his brains as to the "opaque" character of 
Hearty's psyche. What did Hearty and Wanola P. have in common? 
Suppose, indeed, that there was both good and evil spirit? But no 
sooner would he put himself that question than the entire panorama of 
his life would flood his mind; and always he ended with what was for 
him an unacceptable alternative. A doubt of the fundamental point as 
to what kind of spirit was leading him would mean a total revision of 
his work. How could he do that? It could even mean resigning his 
professorship and renouncing his parapsychological research. 

In June 1964, after his final exams and thesis, Hearty had a short 
farewell talk with Carl. He said he would like to stay in touch. It was a 
pleasant moment for both of them. Carl felt good about his departing 
student, in spite of his failure to pierce Hearty's psyche. 

When Hearty departed, Carl found he could not work any more at 
that moment. Something Hearty had said or, perhaps, done — Carl 
could not quite tell — had struck an unaccustomed chord in Carl. He 
sank his face in his hands and found himself crying unaccountably. He 
remained sobbing for about ten minutes, and felt intense relief. 

Then a slackened wire in his mind suddenly jerked tight and stiff 
again. He sat up straight in his chair. His tears dried. The old mood 
was back. There was work to be done. 

It would be almost ten years before Carl and Hearty met again. 

In the next eight years Carl experienced an almost permanently 
altered state of consciousness. He received a similarly permanent 
perception of what he called the "non-thing" aura (what Huxley had 
termed the Non-Self aura) surrounding all objects. He had various 
trances. And, above all, he underwent his "exaltation." 

The first few times that Carl noticed the alteration in his conscious- 


ness, he put it down to a complex of physical causes. The atmosphere 
of a particular day when he sensed some change had been very clear, 
he thought; it had rained for four days previously, and there was a 
strong, blustering wind. On another occasion, he felt, the new 
sensation was due to a great physical well-being and deep satisfaction 
over the way some experimental work had gone. On still another 
occasion, he put it down to an exhilarating discussion with some 

Gradually, however, he acknowledged quietly to himself that some 
deep alteration was taking place within him. 

First of all, it had to do with what he sensed — saw, heard, felt, 
smelled — but the newness and surprise of what he felt really lay in the 
fact that it seemed to originate and reach "beyond" his senses. It was 
"trans-sense." Second, it concerned people, animals, plants, and 
inanimate objects. And, most importantly for Carl, it was theophanic. 
He maintained it was a manifestation of deity. (Carl in those days 
never spoke of "God" or of "the deity," but only of the "divine" and 
of "deity.") 

The earliest stages were simple, but very perplexing. Walking in the 
street during the daytime crowd of shoppers, for example, or in more 
solitary walks away from town, he would somehow switch his 
consciousness away from eyes or hands or trees or the ground. Some 
totality of individual traceries and patterns and meanings emerged, 
instead, and became the center point of his consciousness. 

In the street crowd he would suddenly stop seeing eyes or faces or 
clothes; he would see, instead, a sort of pattern all the people traced as 
their heads bobbed and moved toward him, or receded behind him, or 
passed in the same direction as he was going. 

But the sensation was quick, subtle as mercury. At first, when he 
tried to seize it by his full attention, he chased it away, instead. Then, 
when he went about his business again, it thrust itself back into his 

After a number of experiences, Carl began to realize that the 
traceries he saw were not bobbing heads or swaying tree branches, and 
he was not seeing with his eyes. He was watching something with his 
unaided consciousness. And what he saw was the buoyancy and 
fluidity and free-streaming verve of spirit. Just spirit, untrammeled by 
the chains of physicality. 

After one of these experiences, Carl rushed back to his laboratory 
and scribbled an excited record of the event: "It's theophanic! I've 


done it! I've found the relation between psyche and spirit, between 
consciousness and belief, between deity and human beings. I've found 
it! I've found it! It's theophanic!" This entry in his notes is dated 
March 1965. 

In the following two years, the frequency and intensity of such 
experiences increased. Sometimes it was the eyes of people, sometimes 
it was the onward movement of their feet, sometimes it was their 
heads. The meaning in each case was different; yet all the meanings 
coalesced into an awesome totality. 

Eyes were of a particular pattern. Over and above their color, 
brightness or dullness, shape, individual expressions, every pair of eyes 
seemed to constitute one reflection of a total seeing, an enlivening and 
quickened sight. And all the pairs of eyes he saw were a unified 
reflection of that totality, and at the same time completely individual. 
The pattern they traced was not of one huge eye, but of one sight, of 
one seeing. 

It was in the same manner that in the onward movement of feet he 
saw the power of that one being — he now called it "spirit" in his notes. 
In the working of hands — holding, gesticulating, waving, pointing — it 
was the spirit's subtlety. In the sound of voices it was not the accent, 
the pronunciation, or the pitch of the voices that struck him. It was 
what he called the "tonality." Each voice reflected a certain total 
harmony, as water, without becoming light, reflects light; or a valley 
wall, without becoming sound, reflects the sound of a shout; or colors, 
without becoming a mood, reflect a mood; smells, without being 
touchable, reflect surfaces and substances we have touched. 

At the beginning of the following year Carl began to notice two new 
elements in his constantly altering state of consciousness. There was a 
great sense of "being with," of "being together with." What he was 
"with" or "together with" on these occasions he dared not think out 
too clearly, because he knew that would be the death of it all. But it 
was a personal "being with." What he was "with" was intelligent, free, 
supreme in some awesome but not frightening way. Slowly, over a 
period of time, when note-taking or recording on his machine, he came 
to refer to "my friend." 

The second element was that the fits and starts of his experiences 
were over. Now all was coalescing. All the traceries and patterns, all 
the aspects of meaning and significance and existence seemed to come 
as one. He realized after a brief spell that all the traceries had always 
been one. But, he also realized, he could ^ave started to know that 


oneness only through those initial fits and starts. Theophanic happen- 
ings thus became a theophany, and everything now was seen by him as 
united. Everything was an aspect of the one being. 

Then subtly, simply as a suspicion at the beginning, Carl started to 
feel some basic differences between what he called "my friend" and 
this one being, this all-pervasive, free-moving, and independent spirit 
in which all things were, but which was not itself just one of all other 

Whenever he "perceived" the slightest smidgeon of difference 
between the "friend" and the "one," some sadness he could not 
control entered him. He felt again as if he were going to be deprived, 
as he had been at sixteen when his first vision had ended. He took even 
more copious notes and made long recordings in order to catch and 
retain everything he could. 

In the last days of 1965 Carl began to perceive what he called the 
"non-thing" aura of all objects and people around him. Until that 
moment, and even when he was absorbed by that totality of being in 
which all things were now bathed for him, Carl still did always see 
them as things. Their "thingness" still was a basic characteristic. 

Very early one morning he was walking the short distance from his 
apartment to his office on campus. There was still some of the night 
chill in the air, but a brisk wind moving the trees and rifling the grass 
promised one of those zesty, sunny days Carl liked so much. 

The last stretch of the walk was a path lined on the west side by a 
row of poplar trees. On the east side there was a wide expanse of grass 
sweeping away for about 200 yards to a row of buildings used by the 
agricultural department. Behind the buildings there was a ridge of 
high ground. 

As he walked, Carl glanced eastward at the ridge, his eyes traveling 
leisurely over the trees, shrubs, buildings, and grass, taking in the fresh 
light that was creeping over everything. 

He was so attuned and attentive to his own perceptions that he 
immediately noticed a qualitative change. Each thing had something 
more than mere thingness. It was that each one existed on the edge of 
an abyss all its own, a vast chasm of "non-thingness," of what it was 

This experience was far more absorbing than even Huxley had 
intimated in his lyrical description of the "Non-Self"; and its beauty 
was more authentic and filling than anything expressed in each 
physical object. 


This "non-thingness" was an actual aura around every object. It was 
dim and shallow and pale nearest to the object, but as Carl's eye drew 
away from the object and into the object's aura, the aura deepened 
and heightened in appearance and meaning. 

Nothing, no object, Carl felt, would ever be banal anymore: it 
would never again be merely itself, have only its own self, for him. The 
aura of its non-thingness, its "Non-Self," glowed always and made the 
thing possible. Carl made the quiet discovery that in the aura of each 
thing there was no difference between appearance and meaning. 

As his eye traveled and the "non-thingness," the "Non-Self," of each 
object glistened and signified for him, he began to hear a vaster and 
vaster choir of soundless voices, and to see a greater and greater 
multitude of participants in worship. Each blade of grass chimed its 
silent "Holy! Holy! Holy!" Every tree bowed and swayed in obeisance 
to the supremacy of all existence, and each building stood in reverence 
before the mystery of allness. 

All this produced no shock in Carl. He did not even stop walking. 
He seemed to be ready for it all. As he swung into the pathway to his 
office, he felt in his mind one desire: that he be once and for all 
exalted — even if just for a short time — to see and know that supreme 
existence of all things and to see the holiness of its mystery that gave 
all things meaning. 

That exaltation would eventually come for him, but only four years 

It was in May 1969 that possession seemed to have been extended 
further and deeper in Carl's life than ever before. That possession was 
effected through his professional interests. His attention for about two 
years previous to this date had concentrated on two aspects of psychic 
development: astral travel and reincarnation. Both were in direct 
relationship to Carl's all-absorbing aim of "finding out" the "true and 
original Christianity." 

By astral travel he hoped to transcend the boundaries of space and 
time, and thus to "revisit" the locales where Christianity existed 
before it was corrupted. By his researches in reincarnation — he 
believed fully in it — Carl hoped to relive some ancient experiences of 
his own, possibly even around the birth of Christianity. 

In his researches, studies, and experimentation into astral travel, 
Carl had by 1969 some proficiency in this psychic capability, but his 
achievements had remained within traditional bounds. He usually 
remained in sight of his own inert body and of locales known to him in 


his physical life. And in some definite way he remained tied to the time 
frame of the present moment. His immediate goal now was to find a 
way out of that time frame. There must be, he maintained, some 
"gate" through which he could pass to freedom. 

With his two closest associates, Albert and Norman, and the student 
members of his special study group, he now proceeded to launch a 
series of experiments. He himself was the guinea pig; and, each time, 
one of his trances became the starting point for an experiment. Carl 
had apparently an enormous fund of psychic energy and was immune 
to the injury that others sustained in such experiences. 

The experiments took place in the audition room of his campus 
offices. There he had had installed various machines for recording 
voice and actions, and for monitoring his vital functions — heart, pulse, 
respiration, and brain activity. 

Albert functioned as chief monitor, with Norman as his immediate 
assistant. Albert would interrogate Carl at key points in each 
experiment. Until the last stages of this series of experiments, Carl 
answered only direct yes-or-no questions put to him by Albert. The 
other members of the group took on various assignments in operating 
the machines. 

Carl's optimum time for "trancing" was in the early morning, an 
hour or so before sunrise. At the end of each trance session, the 
assistants withdrew on Carl's instructions, and he was left alone to 
recover his normal composure. Recovery periods lasted for any length 
of time between ten and forty minutes depending on the length of the 
session and Carl's psychic condition. When the assistants returned, 
they usually found Carl sitting at the table recording his memories- — 
sensations, thoughts, feelings, intuitions. 

By repeated experiments, starting always with one of Carl's trances, 
they found that astral travel was not to be accomplished in one step. It 
was not a question of one, but rather three "gates." These he termed 
"low-gate," "mid-gate," and "high-gate." Carl had to pass through 
them all in order successfully to achieve full freedom of astral travel. 

Low-gate was, more or less, the initial condition of trance: an 
absence of all sensory reaction and feeling on Carl's part. Mid-gate 
implied that Carl himself felt no relationship to his body; but, 
nevertheless mid-gate still implied "immobility" on the part of his 
psyche. High-gate, Carl figured, would mean that his psyche escaped 
from that peculiar "immobility" of mid-gate and depart "freely" on 
astral travel. The rest was discovery and revelation. 

354 THE cases 

The verification of Carl's passage to low-gate and mid-gate positions 
was accomplished by a series of laboriously conducted experiments, 
repeated and repeated, until they were all satisfied that objectively 
Carl could be said to have reached these different positions. To help 
our understanding of how these experiments went, we have the films, 
tape recordings, and the minutes of the laboratory log, together with 
Carl's own recordings made after each session. Some members of the 
group have also contributed their recollections of what happened. 

Once Carl was in a trance and all physical feeling (say, a pin stuck in 
the sole of his foot) was negative for him, the assistants proceeded to 
change the objects around Carl's inert body. They introduced objects 
he had never seen — usually placards inscribed in another room by one 
of the assistants. They placed them face up and face down; they 
moved them around. They proceeded thus through a series of 
experiments, testing Carl until they were sure that his responses 
identifying the objects previously unknown to him were accurate and 
were coming from the low-gate position. 

As Carl recorded it, in low-gate position he was perfectly conscious, 
but not through his senses. And he was observing from a position 
outside his own body, at every side of it as well as beneath it and 
above it and the couch upon which his body lay. 

Mid-gate was the next goal. In all low-gate positions there always 
persisted in Carl some instinctual relationship to his own inert body, as 
he viewed it from ''outside." They understood that this instinctual 
relationship was a "given" of normal human conditions. The aim was 
to get rid of it. 

All knew that there was a risk involved in shedding something so 
basic and instinctual as the feeling for one's own body. What 
guarantee was there that one could resume it, how could one "return" 
to normal body living? Did one just escape from the relationship, 
leaving it intact, and then return to its bonds? Or by leaving it did one 
destroy it? No one knew. "But we must find out," insisted Carl. 

In late 1968 Carl had the beginnings of mid-gate: in his trances now, 
the relationship to his body was weakening; and, as the weakening 
progressed, a strange, dimensionless condition of mind and will began 
to fill his consciousness. Great caution was exercised by the assistants 
and by Carl at that stage. Carl allowed a certain degree of weakening 
of that instinctual bond, then returned again to full immersion in his 
bodily senses. He then repeated the operation several times, until he 
felt sure of his psychic energy and resources to help him back to 


psychic normalcy and then, down past low-gate, back to physical 
normalcy. Eventually, in the early summer of 1969, he fully attained 

At the end of the summer it was decided that they should aim for 
high-gate. It was a Saturday morning. All proceeded in the orderly and 
controlled manner adopted from the beginning. Carl passed into 
low-gate and, without much delay, into mid-gate. At this point, 
according to the plans made at the previous night's preparatory 
meeting, there was a three-minute regulatory pause while they waited 
for Carl to attain control of his psychic energy for the next and difficult 

When the three minutes were up, they started again. But quickly 
Albert found he could get no answers or reactions from Carl. After a 
sudden racing, pulse, heartbeat, and respiration had slowed down to 
the pace "normal" for mid-gate. Physically Carl was "in normalcy." 
Norman and Albert looked at each other and at the rest of the group; 
there was nothing to do but to wait and keep monitoring Carl's vital 
signs. It was a risk Carl had insisted be taken, and they had all agreed. 

When Carl had reached mid-gate and Albert's interrogating voice 
had ceased for the regulatory pause, Carl's progress had not stopped. 
The diminishing relationship to his body had melted into nothing. And 
he was suddenly within another ether or state: neither far from nor 
near his body, neither light nor heavy, his whole self wholly 
transparent to himself, desirous neither of death nor of life, neither 
remembering anything nor forgetting anything, neither realizing 
anything new nor ignoring anything old. In that state he had neither 
past nor future. He was past mid-gate and into the high -gate position. 

Albert, Norman, and the others were seriously worried at first when 
the monitoring machines ceased to record any brain activity in Carls 
body. But Carl had forewarned of this also and told them that perhaps 
on the threshold of high-gate, and most probably in the high-gate 
position, there would be no apparent brain activity, certainly none 
that could be picked up by machines. But Carl had not been able to 
predict anything more. His assistants had no inkling of Carl's 
experience at that moment. 

Quickly and simultaneously he surveyed an entire panorama. As he 
tells it, it was a medley of faces and places and animals which he had 
seen before either in real life or in books, faces such as the Ramses II 
colossus at Abu Simbel in Egypt, a Minoan goddess from the sixteenth 
century B.C., a lute player from ancient Tyre; places such as the Nike 

356 . THE CASES 

temple in Athens, the baths of Mohenjo-Daro, the early buildings of 
Jericho, sheets of ice-capped land, swamps, swirling gases, deeps of 
blackness; objects such as a sycamore tree in Pharaonic Thebes of the 
eighteenth century B.C., the high places of Machu Picchu. 

It was not a question of images or pictures; it was the actual places 
and objects themselves. And an added peculiarity was that to Carl 
they did not come singly, one after the other or separated in space and 
time. He was ranging far above them, and they were simultaneously 
present to him. 

The recordings taken during this portion of the session are silent 
except for the whispers of his associates. Carl was silent throughout 

After 25 minutes Albert and the others were beginning to become 
alarmed, when the pulse and heartbeat monitors began to record a 
faster pace. Carl must be "returning," reviving, they knew. He was 
beginning to respond to Alberts direct commands and suggestions. In 
another ten minutes it was all over. Carl opened his eyes slowly and 
blinked in the electric light. 

They all filed out, leaving Carl his accustomed time to recover. 
When they returned some 15 minutes later, he was dictating into the 
recording machine as much as he could recall of that high-gate astral 
travel. The elation of the group as they listened was understandably 
high. They still had to devise some method of verifying the data of his 
high-gate travel, but they had full confidence that such controls could 
be devised with repeated experiments. 

Albert, Norman, and Carl were the last to leave the audition room. 
Their path lay across the campus to the dining room. As they walked, 
they discussed the salient points of Carl's trance. There were two or 
three aspects of Carl's astral travel that Norman was sure were unique, 
even in the low-gate and mid-gate states. He mentioned especially the 
peculiar time frame within which Carl seemed to move during the 
trance, and he remarked on the bodiless experience of Carl at certain 
moments of his experience: not only had Carl felt as if he was looking 
at his own inert body; he felt as if he had been definitively separated 
from it. 

As they continued to talk, Albert and Norman were what they now 
call "taken over" or "totally dominated" by some psychic dimension of 


Carl was just explaining the absence of distance during astral travel. 
They both recall his saying: "Take, for example, that ridge over there." 
He indicated the high ridge that flanked his favorite walk. "You see it 
as a vertical dimension, some distance from you, on your horizontal 

At that point, their perception of the ridge itself was no longer as of 
an obstacle on their horizon. The ridge was as much there as it had 
been the moment before this peculiar change. But now they were 
neither distant from the ridge nor near it, neither level with it nor 
lower in level, nor above it. They had, in other words, no sense of 
distance. In their description of it, the experience seems something 
like Carl's experience the evening when all distance had disappeared 
between him and the sunset outside his study window. 

And the same change affected their relationship to each other and to 
Carl. Without any perception of distance or space between them, they 
were "with" him, "with" each other. The only material relationship 
that remained was that of presence: they were present to each other. 

They were also aware of another change, this time in Carl. He was 
present to them and they, to him. But he was more present to, more 
"with," something or someone else. And they were not so present to or 
"with" that something or someone else as Carl was. They witnessed his 
"meeting" with